I’d been in a bit of a rut with volunteering. I’ve been working toward some certification exams and my travel schedule has been hectic and two scheduled weekly volunteer gigs were suffering. I felt like I couldn’t be counted on, which is the opposite of what volunteering should be. I made a couple of changes and I am liking this new thing enough to talk about it.
I forget where I first saw Chicago Cares, but I’m sure Twitter had something to do with it. It is an organization that partners with local programs to coordinate and promote volunteer opportunities. Programs are vetted, volunteer leaders are trained, and opportunities are posted online in a calendar for people to sign up and participate.
The events are posted in a calendar form and can be sorted by type, but I just looked at the whole month. On whatever random day that was, I saw an event that evening for volunteers to bring their dogs to a senior living center to socialize with residents. I clicked in, figuring the dog would have to be therapy certified, which I am too lazy to do. But, no. Just a friendly dog with proof of vaccinations.
I emailed my vet, who sent me a pdf of Fiona’s vaccination record. I registered on the website and signed up for the event the same day. I was a little bit worried because I was new and I wasn’t 100% sure how Fiona would do with wheelchairs and walkers, but she was great. We signed up for a similar event at a rehab center a few weeks later.
Then I decided to try something different and have done two events working with – or maybe just entertaining – kids. Dog not included. It is so easy to just get online, see what is available for any given day and sign up. You know the only thing that is difficult? The slots fill up so fast!
Chicago Cares has been tweeting that they are partnering with fifty new non-profits, so I expect there will be plenty more opportunities for one-shot volunteering with organizations all across the city. Maybe in your own neighborhood, maybe getting out and seeing other neighborhoods. It’s like the video says, we should be taking care of each other.