Volunteer Opportunities

Want to do some volunteer work in the Oakland/Berkeley area but don't know where to start?  

Contact me immediately if you have any interest whatsoever in volunteering your time at:
  • Highland Hospital (Alameda County Medical Center) -  County hospital with a massive amount of volunteer opportunities in everything from Emergency Medicine to Radiology.
  • Larken Street Youth -  Volunteer regularly at the Larken Street drop-in homeless shelter for kids and teens.  If you have a free holiday (Easter, Thankgiving, etc.) volunteer here serving food to kids in need.

QUESTION: "I'm a busy person - why would I want to volunteer?"   When you volunteer you are giving something back to your community by lending a helping hand to people and organizations. What you may not realize is that volunteering also benefits you as an individual. There are many good reasons to get involved in the community, including learning something about yourself.  Here are some of the benefits of volunteering - you can:
  • Explore career and personal interests
  • Earn great recommendations for future employment or college applications
  • Develop marketable job skills
  • Build your resume
  • Make new friends
  • Enrich your education
  • Uncover hidden skills and talents
  • Increase your self-confidence
  • Have fun
  • Make a difference
Additional benefits include:
  • Free meals
  • Free parking
  • Free annual flu vaccine
  • Discounts
  • Certificate of recognition
  • Volunteer recognition parties
I've slowly learned that people volunteer for a wide variety of reasons, especially wanting to help others.  But it's also okay to want some benefits for yourself from volunteering.  Some people are uncomfortable with the notion that a volunteer "benefits" from doing volunteer work.  There is a long tradition of seeing volunteering as a form of charity, based on altruism and selflessness.  The best volunteering does involve the desire to serve others, but this does not exclude other motivations, as well.   Instead of considering volunteering as something you do for people who are not as fortunate as yourself, begin to think of it as an exchange.

Consider that most people find themselves in need at some point in their lives.  So today you may be the person with the ability to help, but tomorrow you may be the recipient of someone else's volunteer effort.  Even now you might be on both sides of the service cycle: maybe you are a tutor for someone who can't read, while last month the volunteer firefighters in a rural area you were visiting rushed you to the emergency room 50 miles away.  Volunteering also includes "self-help."  So if you are active in your neighborhood crime watch, your home is protected while you protect your neighbors' homes, too.  Adding your effort to the work of others makes everyone's lives better.

Analyze your motivations... think about how much you receive when you give and consider why you want to volunteer. You may have several different reasons.  Here are just a few of the many possible motivations I've noticed:    
  • to share a skill
  • to get to know a community
  • to demonstrate commitment to a cause/belief
  • to gain leadership skills
  • to do your civic duty
  • because of pressure from a parent or relative
  • satisfaction from accomplishment
  • to keep busy
  • for recognition
  • to feel needed
  • to repay a debt
  • to donate your professional skills
  • because there is no one else to do it
  • to have an impact
  • to learn something new
  • for freedom of schedule
  • to help a friend or relative
  • for an escape
  • to become an "insider"
  • to be challenged
  • to feel proud
  • to explore a career
  • to help someone
  • as therapy
  • to do something different from your job
  • for religious reasons
  • to earn academic credit
  • to keep skills alive
  • because a volunteer opportunity is geographically close or convenient
  • to have an excuse to do what you love
  • to be able to criticize
  • to assure progress
  • to feel good
  • to be part of a team
  • to gain status
  • because you were asked
  • to test yourself
  • to build your resume
  • to be an agent of change
  • because of personal experience with the problem, illness, or cause
  • to stand up and be counted
  • for fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You will probably have some special reasons of your own.  In fact, your initial motivations for selecting a certain organization to offer your services may not be the reasons why you stay.  Once you're on the volunteer job, you will continue to serve as long as you feel that your efforts are accomplishing something, that your talents are appreciated, and that you make a difference. And if you also like the people with whom you work, so much the better!  As long as you are truly serving through your volunteer work, isn't it wonderful that such an exchange occurs?  In fact, it tends to strengthen your commitment to volunteering when you can see the benefits to both the recipient of your efforts and to yourself.   

On that note, I am immensely proud of the certificate that I received from the Children's Hospital below.  It says "Thank You", but I suppose the premise of my little essay here is that I should be thanking them as well.  Please contact me if you have any interest in doing some volunteer work at the organizations on the top of this page and I will show you how to sign up In no time you'll be enjoying all the pleasure volunteering has brought me, and earning a proudly displayed certificate of your own!


Joel :-)