5 Questions to Ask Before You Start Volunteering in Albany
Are you looking for volunteer opportunities in Albany, but you're not sure where or how to start volunteering? We sat down with Serve Albany and talked to them about the best way to get involved and serve the Albany area. They suggested asking yourself these five questions that will help you decide where to volunteer.
Pictured: Girl Scout Troop 1522 after making 200 backbacks for their peers with the Albany Backpack Program.
Content supported by Serve Albany of Christ's Church Albany
1. What problem needs to be solved?
Perhaps the most important - and potentially paralyzing - question you need to ask yourself is how and where you want to make a difference. So stop and take a minute to think not about all the people and causes that need help, but about the people and causes that speak most to you.
There are lots of ways to ask this question: What makes me mad? What makes my heart beat faster? What issue can I not stop thinking about?
However you want to get at it, volunteers only have so much time and so much energy. You are going to need to decide - out of all the issues and causes in the world - which one will YOU invest time in volunteering?
To help you get started, here's a list of causes. Read through this list... does one standout to you? Does one make your heart beat faster?
- Inadequate nutrition/ hunger
- Graduation rates
- Race, gender, or other discrimination
- Physical disabilities
- Mental disabilities
2. What do I love to do? What are my unique skills?
You have skills and passions that, if leveraged by an organization, could be a game changer for their cause. Often we think in terms of volunteering as going to a soup kitchen or helping to clean up a park or build a house. But charitable organizations and non-profits in Albany need all sorts of skills and help.
Do you have some of these skills to offer?
- Event Planning
- Graphic Design
- Web Development
3. When am I available?
You are busy! We all are busy! For some of us the decision on where we serve is dependent on where the margin is in our schedule.
Do you have time to volunteer after school, on the weekends, in the evenings? Depending on your time and the special skills you bring to the table, it may be pretty easy to say that you will keep the books for a charity using your evening free time, for example.
4. Can we serve together?
Often it's not just that we want to serve, it's that we have people we want to serve alongside. What is your motivation for getting involved with volunteering in Albany? Do you want to set a good example for your kids? Find a new opportunity for your Girl Scout troop? Find an organization to work with your office?
Every organization is going to have different needs, so keep in mind how many people you want to serve with when you contact them about opportunities!
Who do you want to make sure you can serve with?
- My Kids
- My group of 5 or less
- My group of 10 or less
- My group of 20 or more
5. What story am I going to tell?
We don't know your story yet, but we heard a couple great ones from Serve Albany veterans who got involved and made a difference - in both their lives and the lives of others!
My name is Brianne. I went to the event Ignite through Serve Albany because I have always loved volunteering. I grew up surrounded by a community that was always involved in helping others, whether it be local or abroad. In recent years I have been consumed by pursuing my education and have put volunteering on the back burner. When I heard about Ignite, I thought it would be a great opportunity to get myself back into helping others and contributing to the community.
At Ignite I met Carmen from Mission Accomplished Transition Services. I thought I was going to talk to Carmen about being a dance instructor for an upcoming event; little did I know, I would be the co-chair of the event committee. I have spent many hours preparing for this event that will help millennials transition from school to career. Spending my time working for a fundraiser has helped me recognize the skills that I can offer to help others. The time I have spent with mission accomplished has motivated me to continue volunteering throughout the community. Ignite is a great event to help many people, of all different interests, find volunteer opportunities that are right for them!
My name is Sarah. For five years now I have been leading a Girl Scout Troop here in Albany. As my troop matures and becomes more aware of the needs of their neighbors and friends, I aim to inspire and motivate them to lend their hands and compassion. When I heard about Serve Albany and their devotion to giving back to the community, my heart resonated. I soon learned about Ignite and immediately signed up knowing that I'd be able to find a perfect service opportunity for my 13 Girl Scouts.
Nearly a month later, Troop 1522 made 200 backpacks for their peers with the Albany Backpack program. The backpacks were filled with food for children who have limited access to food on the weekend. Watching my troop work together with open hearts for their peers and having gratitude for the food that arrives on their table, filled my heart. I look forward to their next service project as a troop and to the day that they seek out service projects on their own and spread compassion.