ira service

Summertime is the best time to complete service in the community.  There are a number of things that you can do to gain volunteer hours and help your community at the same time.  Below are 10 possible ides for ways you can give back this summer.

  1. Assist with a community garden. Gardening is a big trend and a lot of people and organizations are making the choice to grow their own and provide more organic options.
  2. Help at a local homeless shelter. There are a variety of options for families, just children, just women, and just men. Find a shelter that speaks to your desire to assist.
  3. Support a good cause.  Many organizations will host summer events such a races, carnivals, awards banquets, and more outreach events. Find a cause that is near to you and see what they have on the calendar.
  4. Donate time and supplies to a local camp.  Summer camps run throughout the entire summer and can be found everywhere from local churches to YMCAs.
  5. Clean a park/playground.  Find a park or playground that needs some attention.  Now find the organization responsible for the upkeep and find out how you can help. Even picking up trash could make the difference for the animals and children.
  6. Go abroad. Find a mission trip to be a part of and assist those in other countries.
  7. Build a house.  Habitat for Humanity and similar organizations will work to build or repair existing houses for those in need.
  8. Play with puppies.  Animal shelters need your special skills to play with animals awaiting adoption.
  9. Support a Food Bank. Lend a hand at a local bank to help organize and package items accordingly.
  10. Create your own project. Examine your passions, community, and issues affecting you or your family.

This list will hopefully jumpstart ideas within you that will stir some excitement in giving back. Once you have identified how you would like to give back, now you have to determine how to get involved.

There are a number of ways to research ways to get involved.  You can scour the internet using a variety of search terms based on your topic of choice. Get creative and don’t just search for volunteer opportunities in my city.  You may have to do some cold calling to organizations in your area of interest and let them know who you are, what you want to do, and how you could be of service to them.

You may have to step away from the computer and conduct your search in person. Smaller and start-up nonprofit organizations may not have big robust websites.  However, they usually have an office and you showing up in person could provide you with a better opportunity to landing the volunteer opportunity.

Lastly, get out into your community.  Look at local newspapers, go to local community centers, visit town hall meetings, reach out to local fraternity and sororities to find out how to get involved.  You can often see posters or ask local librarians or community center directors about upcoming opportunities, projects that organizations are working on, and ways you can get involved.

If you cannot find the project you are looking for, consider starting your own.  Develop a name, come up with a mission, and fundraise to help achieve your goals. Start off simple and small and allow the project to grow organically.

Be prepared that you may have to go through an interview process or you may just get thrown into the project.  Expect and be prepared for both. You should ace the interview by knowing a little bit about the organization, their mission, and how your skills, passion, and education can benefit the mission.  You should treat this experience like a real job; interview seriously, work hard, and be professional.  At the end of the experience, be sure to ask for a letter of recommendation or a document indicating how many hours you completed and your responsibilities.  Keep this information handy as it could be useful when you want to apply for scholarships, jobs, and future volunteer experiences.  It is important to get the information on paper right after the experience versus two years later, when people that were around when you volunteered are no longer able to assist.

Find some time this summer to give back in at least one way.  Use your social media to track the event and to hopefully inspire others to get involved.

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Happy New Year!!!!

It is a new year, which means a new semester and a new set of goals.  Before you begin to form your list of new goals, you must reflect on the goals from last semester. Take a look at the short and long term goals you created last semester. How did you do?  Did you accomplish everything on your list?  Did you surpass what you set out to do? Let’s take stock of what you have accomplished (and did not accomplish).  Look at what you were able to do! Congratulate and reward yourself for a job well done.  Look at the factors that affected why you were able to accomplish the goals.  What formula did you have in place that allowed you to succeed? How can you apply that formula to the new set of goals for yourself? 

 

At the same time, reflect on the goals you were unable to achieve, hold yourself accountable for the goals that you did not obtain.  Now is not the time to beat yourself for not achieving your goals. This is where you evaluate the goal(s) you did not accomplish and discover why they were not achieved.  Were there factors within your control? Were there uncontrollable factors? Did you almost meet the goal?  Look at all of the factors associated with each missed goal.  A missed goal does not mean the goal is lost forever.  It could just be bad timing or the lack of balance.  Pinpointing the reason why the goal was not accomplished will help to decipher if the goal is lost or should be revisited.  If it is salvageable, add the goal to the list of goals for the new semester. If the goal is not salvageable, evaluate all of the reasons why you were unable to accomplish the goal and try to prevent those factors from reoccurring.

After evaluating your goals, reflect on how you would do things differently.  Did your goals challenge you, did they push you to the next level of your (personal, professional, academic, financial) life, did you accomplish your goals to fast? Ask yourself these things and gear up for the new semester.  Make a list of the things you would like to accomplish this semester. Divide the list into short term and long term goals; indicating items you would like to accomplish at the beginning of the semester, items by the midpoint, and items to complete by the end of the semester. Ensure there is variety within your goals and you take a holistic approach to your goal setting.  Becoming stronger and more competent in one area of your life will not help you most in the long run.  You want to ensure you are developing and balancing all aspects of your life. Focus on your personal growth (spiritual, social, physical, financial), as well as, your professional growth (academics, experience, and skillsets).

Goal setting can be challenging especially if you are coming off a semester where you did not accomplish all you hoped.  Try to look at goals as small pictures that will come together to achieve one big picture. Accomplishing the small goals, step-by-step will help you to tackle the bigger goals piece-by-piece.  Instead of saying you want to lose 50lbs; try saying you want to lose 4lbs a month.  Instead of saying you want to earn an “A” in Molecular Biology, try focusing on earning an “A” one assignment at a time. Instead of saying you want to make new friends, try one new activity a month. Each of the smaller goals are a part of the bigger picture and as you accomplish the smaller goals they will propel you towards the bigger goal.

Have you gotten involved with campus activities/organizations? Why not? What are you waiting for? College is about growth inside and outside of the classroom. What are you passionate about outside the classroom? What do you like? What do you want to learn more about? The only way you will get involved outside of the classroom is if you venture off and take a chance.  Find out which campus organizations are active on your campus.  You can find this information on the website, in the student activities office, or by asking other student like student governments, classmates, and your roommate.  You will find organizations from intramural sports, to drama groups, to political groups, to special interest groups such as anime, ballroom dancing, and much much more.

Identify a couple of organizations that might be of interest to you.  Find out when they meet.  How? Look for flyers on campus, use the email listed on the student activities website, or follow them on social media.  When they host events; go! When they have a meeting; attend! When they need officers on the executive board; run! This may sound easier than actually doing it, but going is the hardest part.  Once you arrive others will welcome you with open arms, because they want some who is there to support the mission, do the work, and share the same interest.

Are you afraid you won’t fit in? It’s okay and it is normal. Go to the meeting and be yourself.  You will find people that will appreciate you for who you are.  You will not have to pretend, people will navigate towards the natural you. If you attend the event and things are not what you thought they would be stay (know that you do have the option to leave at any time) and give it a chance.  Come back again, you will be a little more comfortable and you will recognize some familiar faces. After giving the experience a fair chance, if you still feel like this is not the organization for you. Go back to the drawing board; choose another organization and try again.  Continue to try and put yourself out there.  You will learn more about yourself, expose yourself to new social situations, and benefit in the long run from the experiences.