Giving Back: United Way

The Morning Show

Mary Noel Stefan with United Way of Champaign County joins the Morning Show to discuss how you can help your community in this week’s Giving Back.

They just wrapped up National Volunteer Month. There were lots of great events across Champaign county, including the Community & Campus day of service and Austin’s day.  Today we’re talking about how you can keep the volunteer momentum going and how you can find a place to volunteer on a regular basis.

Many groups would not function without great, consistent volunteers! From meal delivery at Meals on Wheels to dog walking at the humane society and everything in between- volunteers make it happen. When you commit to volunteering once a week or even once a month, you’re making a big difference in the lives of people in our community.

With many University of Illinois students gone in the summer, many local organizations have big gaps of time in their volunteer schedules that need filled. There’s definitely a need for passionate, committed people. And for some people, summer is a time where our schedules are a little more flexible.

It all starts with passion. I always ask people – what do you have a passion for? Is it animals, children, senior citizens, social justice? We have hundreds of organizations in our community addressing so many causes. There is something out there for you. In addition, you want a job you feel comfortable doing. If you don’t like talking on the phone, a volunteer receptionist role might not be the best fit for you, even if you’re passionate about the organization. Be honest with yourself about your skills and talents.

If you are thinking of weekly volunteering, I would say two hours a week is a great estimate. Talk with the volunteer coordinator and be frank about your schedule and availability. They will work with you as best they can. And yes, while lots of groups have weekends and evenings, many of the available volunteer times will be during traditional business hours 8-5. However, many local businesses have workplace volunteerism programs – you usually just need to ask.

For volunteer opportunities, stop by CUVolunteer.org. It’s a great website designed to match people with volunteer needs. Many of the volunteer roles listed are these regular volunteer jobs, where you come in once a week or so. You can also pick up the phone and call an organization you’re passionate about and ask if they have any volunteer roles available.

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