Volunteer Lori has been helping out at Hi-Hope for years, but in recent years she was being recruited to help with administrative projects. For all intents and purposes this was fine, but a few weeks ago she was helping out with a mailing in the Development Office and overheard Nick - Volunteer Coordinator - talking with a current crafting volunteer. Lori mentioned that she was interested in doing that type of activity. Hit the brakes! In fairly short order Nick explained that he would love to have Lori doing something with the individuals we support and while her administrative help was greatly appreciated, working with our folks is certainly the priority.
Nick and Lori had a short conversation about her interests and hobbies and discovered that she is a bit of a painter. After taking Lori through a trial session and orientation, they created a new type of art volunteer - one that works one-on-one with our individuals who are interested in art or who have art-related goals to complete pieces over the course of a couple hours. Lori comes in once a week and rotates so that ultimately all interested parties will have a chance to spend the morning with her tackling a painting project. This type of service is fantastic because we manage to catch two fish with one worm. First, our individuals get to accomplish a personal or programmatic goal, which is always a plus because it demonstrates forward progress. Second, the one-on-one, several hour interaction allows both parties - Lori and whoever she is working with - really get to know each other; to build bonds and learn about one another.
The lesson here is simple: you don't need to think of some cutting edge, avant-garde volunteer activity to really have an impact (although we certainly won't turn that away). Our folks have many of the same hobbies as you so if you are going to do them with someone, why not Steve or Patsy or Howard or any one of the kind and talented people we support. You will create connections, forge friendships, explore your passions and make a difference all at the same time. It's these simple, straight forward types of volunteerism and connection that often make the biggest impact.
If you are interested in even just exploring the idea of volunteering with us, please visit www.hihopecenter.org/volunteer and fill out the short online application. It will get the ball rolling and, hey, if it's not for you, that's ok. That being said, we bet you'll have a blast!