Just as in any city, volunteer work creates a healthy, vibrant, opportunistic environment for its citizens to live comfortably. Luckily, Santa Fe offers many areas of interest in which volunteers are both wanted and needed; everything from animal welfare to the arts to social services. Volunteering as a youth is important for a variety of reasons. First, your time and effort, in whatever capacity, are needed by the organization to achieve its goals. Second, you can begin to see the world around you with wider eyes. Third, you enable yourself to step out of your comfort zone and push yourself for a good cause. In this article I lay out the steps in which you can begin your volunteer work and be a positive change in your community.
Explore Your Options. Similar to when applying for a job, you should only volunteer in an area you are interested in. If you despise children, volunteering for a youth organization probably will not create the positive change you are hoping to achieve. Instead, think about what you enjoy doing, or what you may possibly like to do as a future career. If you love animals, volunteering for the animal shelter may help you decide whether or not that is an avenue you would like to take in your future. At the end of this article, I've provided a list of websites that should help you in deciding where to volunteer.
Apply. Just as with a job, you also have to apply to volunteer. Depending on what the volunteer work requires, the application/screening process can be lengthy and rigorous. For example, if you apply to work with children, a screening process and numerous personality matching tests will be required. Make sure to bring your resume and enthusiasm for the cause for which you are volunteering; the organization will assess your ability to participate and are looking for someone who is passionate about their mission. Furthermore, assuming you are in school, make sure to tell the organization of any scheduling conflicts and how much time you are willing to dedicate to their cause.
Commit Yourself. Volunteer work can be incredibly rewarding, both personally and literally when you see your hard work paying off in the lives of others. However, long-term commitment is necessary in order to be effective in your work. Over time, your work will not only become recognized, but you will begin to develop a greater self-understanding and worth as you continue volunteering. If you happen to be volunteering for a cause that could be a potential career choice, after being there for a significant period of time you may be offered a paid position. Committing yourself and sticking with a cause you believe in will benefit everyone involved.
Celebrate the Cause! It is easy to forget the importance of or the passion you have for a specific cause when you are working for an organization on a regular basis. However, the experience can be incredibly gratifying and the change that can result due to your efforts can be incredible. Celebrate in and enjoy the cause you work for and encourage your friends and family to join in!