There are all sorts of reasons to give back by volunteering to help someone else. When I give back by volunteering:
- I get out of my natural self-contentedness
- I usually meet interesting people I wouldn’t have met otherwise
- The exposure to new people and new ideas enlarges my life.
I limit my volunteering pretty severely, except of course when I don’t. The danger for me is when I give back by volunteering I can enjoy the new project enough to distract me from my other work. A word to the wise – pay attention to how you’re actually spending your time.
3 Ways to give back by volunteering
Here are three ways you can give back by volunteering, and why I like them.
Write for a nonprofit you love for free
This is pretty obvious. I like this one because I’m often asked to write about something new or in a new way – lots of learning!
If you donate, or even just know of a nonprofit you like, call and ask them if they’d like you to write for them occasionally.
Think through your offer before you call. Ask yourself how much time, and/or how many words a month you might be willing to donate. How long do you plan to contribute? It could be anything from one time to roughly forever.
Help kids with their writing skills
Yes, you’ve got the skills to help kids of almost any age, from first grade to the elderly, improve their writing skills. I find working with kids gratifying. It’s always a challenge, and always satisfying.
The way I approach the student’s efforts is roughly the same way I edit my own material with one addition. I explain why I’m suggesting whatever, taking into account of course, their ability to understand me. I won’t get into grammar, for instance – I don’t know it well enough. I am, however good at helping many trust their ear. I make suggestions about approaches and ways they can improve their writing skills by reading and listening.
Schools and libraries often need volunteers for ‘homework help.’ Just ask. The same thing is often true at senior centers.
Again, decide how much time you have to give, including transportation, before you make contact.
Work promoting literacy
Literacy, or the lack of it in America, is shocking. Something more than 30 million people can’t read. That’s a big hunk of potential readers and it means at least that many are getting left behind one way or another.
When I volunteer for literacy I love the idea I’m promoting reading.
Google up some volunteer opportunities like ProLiteracy and Reading Partners – there are many more. Check with your local library – they almost always know about local needs as well as larger efforts about teaching adults to read.
When you give back by volunteering you grow as a person, and as a writer. At least that’s been my experience. Tell us about yours.
Write well and often,