Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Volunteering

I have volunteered at several places. I was really active in doing so during my sophomore year of university. I had one summer in which my intent was to volunteer and offer my services to as many volunteer places as possible. But, as I started to take on other opportunities and fulfilled more coursework, I found less time and room to volunteer. I am glad that I had the opportunity to volunteer at various places.There's something you can learn from each volunteer place, from what you do, through mentoring, and with those you interact with.

When I first started volunteering I didnt know much volunteer opportunities besides what I heard from other people. During that one summer I was serious about volunteering I decided to find out more information about volunteering and applied to a couple of places. I started by searching in Google with something along with lines of "volunteer in Sacramento". I am looking at it right now and there is already some locations that are popular and are in need of volunteers. Among the volunteer places are Loaves and Fishes, City of Sacramento, and Kaiser. If I were to think of places that are in need of volunteers off the top of my head it would be food banks, hospitals, parks, and schools.

I discovered the Volunteer Center of Sacramento website during my volunteer search. The website offers a search engine for volunteer opportunities in Sacramento that can be broken down by region, ongoing or one time opportunities, and under age 18. I actually had a lot of fun with it. Usually, I would find out about volunteer opportunities through word of mouth or through a first page look at Google. I believed that I applied to about 15 volunteer places through Volunteer Center of Sacramento. One of them might have included walking around with seniors. One of them is a volunteer place I still volunteer at today. I received less than 5 responses. And, not all the responses came by too quickly either.
 
Now that I think about it, applying to volunteer for places sounds like applying for jobs. But, there is a difference. When you apply for volunteering you usually fill out a application, go through fingerprinting, and/or attend an orientation. That is, that's all you really need to do to be accepted into most volunteer positions. There's no debating about whether you are best for the job or who the other candidates are. Anyone can do it. You can volunteer at many places. You dont have to do it part-time or full-time. There are places that you can volunteer at for about 2 hours a week or even once in your lifetime. I look at job applications now and think I really dont know how to do some of the stuff. Through volunteering you are expected to provide your time (once you have given it) and not always expected to know everything off the bat and they dont mind teaching you something you dont have experience in.

It was through volunteering that I learned more about myself. I like to be more committed in one position and not just do something once and not ever go back to it again. That's why I dont like those positions where you go help out runs, food banks, or such for one day and its over with. There's not much room for making connections if its just a day or two. You cant work on a project that you are passionate about. There is not enough time to learn something you dont know and be able to provide service for some place that you want to volunteer for. There is not much time to enjoy the volunteer opportunity since one day volunteering are usually busy. Another thing is that I want to broaden more of what I want to know and do, which would eventually be beneficial for members of my community.

Although I volunteered for many places I am going to list a few volunteer opportunities.

1) Botanical Conservatory

I found out about the Botanical Conservatory through Davis Wiki. I wanted to volunteer there because I wanted to work at a greenhouse. My major coming into university was Environmental Horticulture and Urban Forestry, but I quickly found out it was not for me. I really do like just going into a greenhouse pruning, transplanting, taking out dead leaves or whatever because it makes me feel good and smile. Its an environment that has helped to release stress during hard times of the quarter. Also, I got to see and learn more about the plants. Ernesto and the rest of the people who work and volunteer there are pretty cool.

2) Women's Resources and Research Center (WRRC)

I like the WRRC. I am glad that we have it on campus and the other centers. I also volunteered for two other centers, SAFE program as part of the Student Recruitment and Retention Center and the LGBTRC. I like the small library that you can sleep and eat in. I like that you can buy books and read in the reading room since there are comfy chairs in there. I like the people there. I totally support the WRRC, which is why I volunteered here for over a year. It was through my involvement with the WRRC that I learned more about the center. I also made friends with people involved in the center. I was able to help in the office or library.

3) Thumbs up! Thumbs Down! (TUTD)

TUTD is the only place that I still volunteer at and wont be able to do so for much longer. Only youth up to the age of 22 can volunteer. I found this wonderful opportunity through one of the volunteer search engines.Through this volunteer opportunity I became more aware of the presence of tobacco in films and how it influences my peers. Before volunteering at TUTD I wouldnt watch movies, but now I am growing close to watching 100 movies in my life and the majority of them are in theaters. I also like that we get to vote for the Thumbs up and Thumbs down movie/actresses for the Hackademy and volunteer to make it happen. I use to take the bus for 1 hour just to attend the monthly meetings and I am still glad to be a volunteer for TUTD.

4) Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services (SFBFS)

SFBFS is one of those places that I have only volunteered at for one summer and want to volunteer at longer. This place actually feeds there volunteers and I really like the food that they provide for us. It was through volunteering at SFBFS that I learned about services that are provided for the needy or homeless community. I am glad that a place this exists for those in need. I remembered that during my orientation for SFBFS, Robin said that we were one of the biggest groups of volunteer to come by and she asked some of us why we volunteered. I remembered someone saying it was because of Michelle Obama and I thought of how influential she was to encourage people to volunteer.

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