I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.
Some of the reasons students select one specific area of volunteer work over another is that they are looking for work that will:
- Match issues about which they feel strongly.
- Lead to learning new skills.
- Help them deal with some of their own personal issues.
- Meet new people and break down barriers of misunderstanding, mistrust, or fear.
- Fit well into their busy schedules - location, day, or time.
- Maximize the competencies they have to offer.
- Increase contact with a specific population they find -satisfaction in helping; such as the elderly, children, or the homeless.
Finding a "Good Fit" Volunteer Opportunity
When exploring volunteer opportunities, we advise that you do the following:
- Contact the organization and inquire about their specific needs at this time. What will you be doing to help?
- Assess your strengths and weaknesses. Utilize your strengths by making a contribution to an organization by doing critical work. Or, expand your skills by tackling challenges in a new environment.
- Ensure finding a "good fit" volunteer opportunity, by taking the time to explore various causes, projects, and communities. Feel free to consider your interests beyond health. For example; the environment, social services, world hunger, education, or animal welfare. You may want to look at UAB projects or helping the homeless, the elderly, children, or a faith-based initiative.
- Distinguish between work where you are giving (i.e. volunteering in a clinical setting), from those experiences where you are receiving (i.e. such as shadowing a physician). Keep in mind, by volunteering your services you are strengthening our communities.
- Make sure that you are making a realistic commitment. Remember, they will be counting on your services.