By Manager of Volunteers Patty Carlson
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.” ~Margaret Mead
It’s one of my favorite quotes. It practically describes the birth and evolution of BIA-MA as an organization! And it also speaks to people becoming involved. Involvement is connecting to the mission and the people served by an organization – it’s the involvement that creates connections to others.
Volunteering is a great way to test the waters – to see if it’s something you like, to see if you are ready to make a commitment to showing up once a week…or maybe more. At the BIA-MA offices, we celebrate a world of differences in our volunteers: retirees, young mothers, empty nesters, survivors of brain injury (both younger and older) and students. Of course, there are a limited number of openings in any office, but the places you can volunteer are limited only by your imagination!
Here are some things you might think about when considering what volunteer opportunity is right for you:
1. What have been your best experiences, the times you felt most energized and alive?
2. What happened? What exactly were you doing? Who else was with you?
3. What conditions made those high points possible?
4. What books do you read or blogs do you visit, just because you’re interested in them?
5. What are you great at? What comes easily to you?
If you love working with children, consider volunteering to read to them at a library or school. If you have a love for animals, maybe you could be the extra pair of hands needed at a shelter. There are many veterans organizations in our state where your offer of assistance would be welcome, perhaps serving meals at shelters or driving someone to a job interview. Don’t forget your local senior center – maybe you have a gift of gab and someone is waiting for your visit and some conversation.
There are also plenty of things you can do behind the scenes! Help out at a local church by sweeping/vacuuming the floors or by putting up holiday decorations and taking them down after the season passes or sort food at your local food pantry.
Think about the things that bring you happiness and how to incorporate that happiness into a volunteer opportunity that will make you feel good about yourself!
Check out the national website: www.volunteermatch.org to access thousands of volunteer opportunities – maybe one is just right for you! Additionally, The Institute for Community Inclusion has many resources for people with disabilities and our organization, BIA-MA, has many ways for you to volunteer. We have volunteers in our offices, Ambassador Program, Support Group Leaders, those who serve as survivor speakers in Prevention Programs, conference committee members, those who assist remotely and individuals who participate in our PALS program. Please check our website for more information.