Do you volunteer? (Advice for a volunteer wannabe)


For some time now, I’ve been wanting to volunteer, but I just don’t know how to get started.  In terms of writing, I think I mostly have a full-time job since I write 3 books per year.  I do, however, have some flexibility with my schedule since my children are grown and I have no grandkids yet. 

Some people volunteer or do charity work because they’re wonderful people.  I’ll tell the truth.  I want to do it for myself.  How horrible does that sound?  There are so many people out there with so many needs and I’m doing a big fat nothing.  I think I might feel a little better about me if I did something helpful.  It doesn’t have to be big and I’m not interested in major manual labor, but I’d just like to… help.  Don’t get me wrong.  I donate moolah and food to several causes, but I’d like to do more. 


Whenever I add something new, I’m stepping outside my comfort zone.  In my case, my brain offers a lot of resistance to change.  But I really want to do this, and it doesn’t really have to be every week, does it?  I’ve heard of people who volunteer at a soup kitchen or perhaps a women’s shelter.  I believe the latter requires some intense training.  Because of my writing, I would have to plan ahead for that.   Do I need to join a women’s club?  I’ve heard that even Jimmy Buffet’s Parrotheads do charity projects.  That could be fun.  Boat drinks and charity work all in one.Smile

So can you please give me some advice and suggestions?  I could really use some help!

And in the meantime, I think my book is still out if you need a little reality break.Smile

519zzztD-ZL__SS500_  The Prince’s Texas Bride

Happy Tuesday!Smile


Leanne, who just turned in her book!!!!

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22 Responses to Do you volunteer? (Advice for a volunteer wannabe)

  1. Michele says:

    Yay for volunteerism! And I think it’s always for yourself, no matter how you spin it, but that’s not a bad thing. Because who would do it if they didn’t get some little bit of satisfaction from it?
    I attempted to start volunteering this past winter at a local Humane Society, but weird events prevented me from doing so, and actually made sure I wouldn’t volunteer at that site. I’d still like to find someplace to go and ‘pet the kitties’ for a couple hours, though.
    I’m not much of a people person so I have to do ‘background’ work, or something with animals.
    Let us know if you figure it out!

    • leannebanks says:

      Thanks Michele, and bummer that it didn’t work out with the Humane Society. Don’t you hate it when you try to do something good and it doesn’t work out? It sounds like you’ve thought about what would work for you. I’m really going to try to get something going! xo, Leanne

  2. GunDiva says:

    I’ve volunteered for a million years with the 9HealthFair in Colorado – they have year ’round volunteer positions, though I only work with them from October to May helping train the other volunteers and get the fairs set up.

    I started volunteering when the kids were little because I couldn’t afford to donate money. When charities would call me for donations, I would tell them I couldn’t afford to donate money, but I could afford to donate my time – did they have any need for volunteers? The question usually stumped them, but you might get some leads that way.

    Most elementary schools have a need for volunteers both in the classroom and behind the scenes. You might try contacting a nearby school. Even though the year’s almost over, they’ll be needing help a few weeks before school starts to help set up classrooms and such.

    I’m pretty enthusiastic about volunteerism – made me feel so much better when my kids were little and I had to take them to the free clinic because I couldn’t afford doctor’s visits. Once I had time to volunteer, I did so for the same doctor, just in his mobile clinic instead of his normal clinic. It made me feel like I was paying him back (in a small way) for all of the free treatments my kids had received.

    • leannebanks says:

      Gun Diva, good for you! I like how you volunteered for the clinic doctor and the Health Fair in Colorado. That’s an idea for me to try to volunteer for just an event and I’ll have to make sure I don’t schedule my deadline them! THANK YOU!:)

  3. Helen Brenna says:

    Congrats on turning in another book, Leanne!

    And I totally agree with what Michele said about volunteering always being for ourselves. If we didn’t get something out of it, we wouldn’t do it.

    I used to volunteer a ton at my kids’ schools, but now that they’re older I got out of the habit. A friend of mine does hospice visits and loves it. She visits people in various stages of cancer therapy. Both her parents died from cancer, so it’s close to her heart.

    Food shelves, libraries, churches, schools, hospitals, senior homes. The need for volunteers is probably way up given organizations have likely had to lay people off with all the cutbacks. I’ll bet you won’t have any problem finding a needy organization.

    • leannebanks says:

      Thank you Helen! You gave me a great list of options and I’m really going to write these down!:) xo, Leanne

  4. catslady says:

    I am sure there is something out there for you and it will be mutual – good for those you are helping and good for you too! I started as a candystriper and when I had kids I did the brownies, girl scouts etc. Then I joined a woman’s group that did chairity work but also fun things too and you got to choose. Currently I work at an American Legion and there’s tons of different things you can help out with – from fixing food, helping with parties, sending books overseas, visiting hospitals etc. We just did a food panty event in conjuction with the Legion. Lots of luck finding something you can enjoy and help with at the same time.

    • leannebanks says:

      Catslady, thank you for all those suggestions. Sometimes I worry a little bit about fitting in with a woman’s group, but maybe it would be better than I anticipate. You gave me several suggestions of things to do and I’m adding them to my list! xo Leanne

  5. kris says:

    I don’t have alot of free time, but the one thing I do is “adopt” deployed soldiers. I send letters and care packages. I collect travel toiletries when I’m on the road for work and will donate them to organizations that also prepare care packages for wounded soldiers. It’s a small way to show my appreciation for the men and women of our military and is something that I can do on my timetable.

    • leannebanks says:

      Kris, those are excellent ideas. And you are our super travel girl, aren’t you? So, you really have to work to squeeze it in. THANK YOU! xo, Leanne

  6. cindy gerard says:

    Yea for you on turning in your book, Leanne!

    Like some of the others, we donate money to several causes and we always have adopted soldiers on the hook to send pressies and cards and letters to.

    I’m like you, though, in that I don’t actually volunteer my time. It’s something I want to do when I’m retired – just not quite yet. And while the idea of volunteering in an animal shelter sounds wonderful, I know what would happen if I did. We’d be overrun with critters at our home because i couldnt’ stand to leave them there.
    I’m thinking I’ll probably do something with a nursing home or senior citizen’s center. Can’t imagine anything worse than being old and alone with no one to talk to – even if it’s just the occasional visit.

    • leannebanks says:

      I can’t do the critters either Cindy, but I know several people who give “foster care” to litters of kitties and pups. Y’all are getting me inspired. I think I will make some calls! THANKS! xo, Leanne

  7. Hooray for volunteers! You absolutely get much more back than you put in. I got a husband!

    I strongly recommend volunteering your blood. We donate regularly. On Christmas Eve it’s a big family affair. Clyde really had fun volunteering for Habitat For Humanity a few years ago. He’s very handy, but you don’t have to be. The grandkids’ school benefits from lots of volunteers who don’t have kids in school. (I do a lot there, but I have the grands.) There was an article in the paper about an older man who loves to read to kids–goes to schools and libraries. We used to help at one of the churches downtown that serves meals. Haven’t done that in a while, but we found it very rewarding. Dear daughter loves animals, so she’s gotten involved with Hearing and Service Dogs of Minnesota. She chaired their walkathon this year while she was working full time and going to school. (She’s graduationg from college today. Yay!) With the granddaughters at home I’ve slowed down some.

    • leannebanks says:

      Wow, you’ve got volunteering blood in your family, Kathleen! Good for you. And how fun that you met your husband that way! You must be terribly proud of your daughter. HUGE CONGRATULATIONS on your daughter graduate! That is a BIG deal!:) xo, Leanne

  8. forestjane says:

    Don’t forget your local library—I have some volunteers who come in whenever they can, unscheduled, but on a regular basis, and just do ‘kind’ things, like put the videos and DVD’s and paperbacks in alphabetical order on the spinning racks. We had one older lady who literally hobbled in on her walker, every day she was able, and would sit down in the back room and put a double-sided cart of nonfiction books in dewey decimal order.

    We have also had a “Read to Erase Your Fines” program going during the summer, where someone promised to come to the library every week, Tues. and Thurs., at the same time. Kids would make appointments, and if they read out loud to her for ten minutes, we would erase a dollar off their fines.

    My next door neighbor got tired of her retired hubby hanging around the house, so she pushed him to volunteer at the nearby hospital. Now he goes in every afternoon and escorts lost people where they need to go. She says it makes him feel supremely useful – when people come in the front door with a wild look in their eyes, saying they’ve just had a phone call and need to find their son, where’s the ICU, instead of giving them long involved directions, he simply escorts them there. Plus his wife says he’s getting some walking in, and always comes home with some stories to tell.

    • leannebanks says:

      forestjane, these are great ideas! I’m going to call both my library AND the hospital closeby! THANKS! xo, Leanne

  9. Keri Ford says:

    I have blood donations on my list for not this week (don’t want to be passed out for my 10yr reunion on saturday!) or the next week (I have 4 free personal trainer appts at my gym that I again…don’t want to be passed out for). but after that, I’m going in. Will be my first time. I have O- so I really need to donate. am tempted to ask if they can put a few bags back with my name on them just in case I need it back some day.

  10. leannebanks says:

    Kerri, 10 year reunion? You’re a baby! And so gorgeous. You don’t need a trainer! But good for you on the blood donatings. I’m with you on waiting until the reunion is over. My husband has 0+ and he has donated so much that he has has scar tissue from the big needles. Poor guy! xo,Leanne

    • Keri Ford says:

      well, thank you! the trainer came with my gym membership and it’s been forever since I was in a gym, so I’m taking my appts for a workout refresher.

      and dear, you’re terrifying me with scar talk!

  11. Laney4 says:

    Like Helen, I used to volunteer at my kids’ schools all the time. During their high-school years, I spent most of my time in their school library. The best thing about it was that I could just show up whenever was convenient for ME and I knew my efforts were appreciated.
    I thought ForestJane was talking about me when she mentioned an older woman with a walker (but I don’t use a walker … yet … LOL) putting books in Dewey Decimal System order, as I have done that for years. Whenever I visit my hometown library (as often as possible), I make sure I put a bunch of books in order. (I love it when books are organized properly, and I realize that their short-staffed employees have a hard time putting books in order on an upper floor of the library when people check out their books on the lower floor instead.)
    I am in a similar situation to you, in that my kids are grown up and I have no grandchildren yet. I have volunteered throughout the years with our local badminton clubs (still do), the schools, charitable organizations (canvassing), etc., but what I’ve learned is that I only volunteer until it becomes a chore. When I feel “used” or don’t find the joy in it anymore, then I stop. When I feel ready, I will again volunteer to do those things I want to do, and I will NOT let others push me into doing things that THEY want me to do rather than what I want to do. An example would be the aforementioned badminton club. I was the local and regional secretary for almost a decade and became “burnt out”. Quit both at the same time. When I felt ready again, I volunteered to do a few local “secretarial” things (because their secretary couldn’t be bothered) that I liked doing, but I refused to become the secretary (or president) again. I do what I enjoy.
    Good luck, Leanne. I hope you decide on something that allows flexibility in scheduling, and that whatever it is brings a smile to your face.

  12. Terry Odell says:

    When my kids were in school, I was a classroom volunteer. After they were independent, I volunteered for the Adult Literacy League. Nothing more rewarding than opening the world of reading to someone. Having someone say, “I read a magazine article that told me to cook my hamburger meat until it wasn’t pink or I could get sick. Thanks, because before, I couldn’t have done that.” is as rewarding (if not more so) than someone saying, “I loved your book!”

    Terry’s Place

  13. Marilyn says:

    I’m late commenting because I live in one of the areas of Alabama ravaged by tornadoes and I was without power for almost 6 days. Volunteers have been out in abundance around here. They’ve donated money, goods and time. They’ve cleared debris and fed folks. They’ve taken in animals to help find their owners. Someone started a Facebook page where they’ve posted pictures of photos, cancelled checks and other things they’ve found from as much as 200 miles away. Another gal started a FB page for people to donate wedding dresses for brides who lost theirs in the tornadoes. I offered up the dress I wore to my son’s wedding because not only do the brides need dresses, so do the mothers of the brides and grooms. A friend of mine is an interpreter for the deaf and helped out a sheriff’s department.

    Outside of the tornado situation, I work with a divorce and grief recovery group. They helped me so much during my divorce and this is my way of paying it forward. When folks are hurting from the break-up of a marriage, it helps to have a listening ear and someone who understands the pain and hurt.

    You’ll find your niche. Sometimes it just falls right into your lap.

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