Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
By Emily Roseman, Alumna of American University
Colleges are breeding grounds for do-gooders. With endless philanthropic opportunities and boundless volunteerism thrust upon your academic experience, it’s at times hard to fit in any “me time” when you’re busying helping others!
But when push comes to shove in the real world, you tend to shift from “doing unto others as you would like to be treated” to “wake me up when happy hour arrives.” While volunteerism and community involvement never seems to run short on the college campus, you can still be an active member of any community, whether you find yourself in the working world or in the comfort of your own home.
The best part? Doing good doesn’t have to involve awkward tabling-on-the-quad events!
Become an Active Alum
Any college will be quick to note staying an active member of your alma matter’s alumni association is the best way to stay involved! Maybe it’s just me, but taking phone calls to donate funds with your first-job salary is far from what I imagine being a “good alumni” entails. While donating any amount of money to better your school is all good and well, it’s the ability to use your alumni status for the betterment of others that does greater good than an impersonal check.
Try signing up for newsletters that connect you with a more local alumni crowd to see how others are reaching out. Many schools like my alma matter have alumni volunteers who help incoming or prospective students apply to college and answer the tough questions on the reality of college life.
You can even go a bit further and reach out to your former high school to see if they need any alumni support in the form of mentorships or inspiring class visits! Acting as a student alumni for my own high school has allowed me to continue my role as a mentor from my college days, but it also allows me to talk to kids in the community about achieving ones goals and dreams, no matter how big!
Tour the Town Hall
Pardon my language, but I have a beyond kickass town hall. I grew up in a quintessential New England town with an even more storybook town hall. Beautiful, picturesque and down right adorable, my town hall is a phenomenal resource for any community member to find new projects or volunteer sites that need an extra hand!
While taking a gander into your own town hall may sound as drab as helping quilt at the local senior center, you’d be surprised how much your experience from the college campus can help the community at large. See if any town offices need assistance or the help of a set of younger eyes to get involved in day-to-day office work.
Former business majors out there can sign up for your local Better Business Bureau to see if any small businesses in your town need accounting or bookkeeping assistance pro bono. Communication majors can find tons of ways to keep their local government or community involved by helping develop their social media presence and better their interaction with the town. Or maybe you are indeed looking for a quick quilting session with the seniors. Town halls serve as great volunteer centers with the help of community boards, so take a look once a week to see any new volunteer activities that might trigger your interest.
I’ll admit, I can be a bit of an eager beaver when it comes to volunteer projects (I cant help it!) but trying to balance your Dudley Do-Right outlook can certainly fall to the wayside when you have pressing matters of your own sitting at your work desk. Fortunately, staying involved or even doing any amount of good deed can be organized or implemented with the click of a button!
Staying committed to your favorite charities or causes are much easier now with the help of some effective sites like Change.org and Causes.com. You can find charities or organizations that align with your own interests that you can help simply by logging online. Spread the word and share your interests with friends by signing and sharing petitions or charity links.
Procrastinating at the office has never felt so good! If you’ve developed a good crew of work buddies, try organizing a group volunteer activity that can count as a work hangout too! Signing up for 5k races, charity benefit dinners or concerts, even shopping at local farmers market all have their own unique way of getting out of the office and thinking outside the typical charity box.
By participating in local community projects, staying involved with online groups or even starting your own pet project to better the greater world, you can not only make use of all your pent-up volunteerism that was once plentiful – but it also feels downright good!