It Made a Difference For That One: 5 thoughts on volunteering

Hi, I’m Meridith and I’m a professional philanthropist.

I always joke about this with friends (especially Brooke, who is also a professional philanthropist) but I’m only somewhat kidding. I volunteer my time… a lot. And it rocks.

If you’ve read Scoot a Doot for any amount of time, you’ve probably figured out that we chicks are big on the doing good things. Do good, feel good! That’s our motto.

Okay, no it’s not. But it’s our secondary motto. (Do those exist? Well, they do now!)

When the PTO needs a secretary… or a vice-president – yeah, I’m holding two positions this year – I’ve got my hand up.

Food drive? Here’s the tuna fish!

Gifts for the holiday giving tree? We’ll take two requests!

When you’re looking to do good, there is never a shortage of opportunities. In fact, it can all be a bit daunting. As a professional philanthropist, I feel it is my duty to share different ways that you too, can volunteer.

Selfie with one of the snuggle pups, Star. ADOPTED

Selfie with one of the shelter snuggle pups, Star. ADOPTED

Front and center on my volunteering stage recently has been my local animal shelter. The want to do this was always present; the reality of me being able to make this happen started in August.

Let’s break it down. I’ll be using the animal shelter as my emphasis but really, this works for many volunteer positions.

1. INTEREST

It’s usually a good idea to make sure you’re fully interested in volunteering for a cause. For example, I wouldn’t volunteer to be a children’s archery instructor because I have bad aim and bad luck.

Many volunteering positions are one and done opportunities, and that’s great if you’re short on time or looking for a quick jolt of feeling good!

An example? Recently the shelter was low on food. As in, so low that they weren’t sure how they were going to feed the animals for the next month. A local news station picked up the story as a human interest piece and then this happened.

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A-maz-ing. Photo credit: Camden County Animal Shelter

Community members far and wide came together to donate cat and dog food, beds, laundry detergent, and other daily shelter needs. It was truly incredible to see!

Some people want to do even MORE. That’s when they come out to volunteer interest meetings. Shelters, hospitals (I was a junior volunteer aka candy striper, once upon a time), PTOs – they all have these meetings to tell you more about the organization and what you can do to make a difference.

2. TIME

Time is something that everyone seems short on these days and I can appreciate that. I do have more time than many as a stay at home parent, which is why I like to fill my time with things that are valuable in meaning.

I love dogs and I would have all of the shelter dogs living in my house if I had the option. However, I do like my husband and he’s told me that we are good with ONE dog for now. Sigh.ย 

Anyway… runners and walkers, take note because this is for YOU.

The dogs in shelters NEED exercise. They want nothing more than to get out of their kennels and frolic with me. I walk with many but there are some who are all about running! I spend approximately a mile per dog, which adds up for both dogs and mileage! It’s a win all around.

Also, some of those dogs require upper body strength because they are STRONG! Total body work out, heyyyyy.

3. GOODS/MONEY

Oh, you’re not independently wealthy?

Yeah, me either.

Until I hit the lottery or find a suitcase of 100s, I’m not always able to give financially. However, I have plenty of things in my house that are useful.

And I bet YOU do too.

Shelters need old bedding, towels and sheets to make their animals feel comfy cozy in their temporary homes. Recently I went through my linen closet and pulled older things I no longer used and then reorganized my closet. Donation for the shelter AND a clean closet. Look at me, being all domestic! (This happens less often than it should so yes, I’m totally patting myself on the back.)

In the case that you ARE independently wealthy, I hope you’re donating to your favorite causes!

4. ADVOCACY

There is something that speaks to me about being a representative of someone or something that might not otherwise have a voice. The animals at the shelter don’t have Facebook, they don’t have blogs, they don’t get a chance to get out much…

But I do.

As a volunteer, I am able to bring a pup to get pictures taken at an amazing photographer.

lexus

Sweet Lexus on the way to her glamour shots! She is available at Camden County Animal Shelter.

lexusvaleriebruder

Photo credit: Valerie Bruder Photography

As a volunteer, I am able to take a dog to a local park in hopes of having them meet people who are looking to add a new member to the family.

Shawna at the park! ADOPTED!

Shawna at the park! ADOPTED!

As a volunteer, I am able to sign up for events such as parades and mall visits to get the pooches out of their kennels and visible in the community.

It’s good stuff. And when you’ve got a big mouth and a willing audience, you cannot be stopped!

5. MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Listen, when it comes down to it, a big reason that people volunteer is that it makes them feel good.

I love animals, I love spending time with them, and I want to help them in any capacity that I can. Since I don’t live on a ranch and since I’m not independently wealthy, volunteering at the shelter is the absolute best thing I can do to love on the dogs there (and cats – I’ve ventured into the cat room too, I’m still learning the ropes there).

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Kiwi – Available at Camden County Animal Shelter (edit to add: ADOPTED!)

I have many four-legged friends and yes, I’ll admit that I miss them when I enter the kennel area only to find a new little face looking up at me.

But that’s also the best day, because it means that they’ve found their forever home.

And that new pup will need a friend to love on them, to walk them, and to give them treats. I’ll be there, leash in hand.

What are your favorite ways to give back to the community? Is there a volunteer opportunity that’s on your bucket list? What’s stopping you?

10 thoughts on “It Made a Difference For That One: 5 thoughts on volunteering

  1. You truly are inspiring, Meri! I see your puppy posts on FB all the time and it MAKES me want to FIND the time to do something of my own to give back. Sure, I work in a community not for profit childcare but there has to be more to life than work and play. There HAS to be some return that I can do to make me feel good and to give back to a community i’m slowly becoming a part of. This weekend, I’m looking into it! xxx

    • Thanks so much, Cass! I’d love to hear about what you find by you that interests you; the opportunities are so vast. The best thing about volunteering is that it’s something YOU get to choose and it’s incredibly rewarding!

      (I love seeing you swing by here, btw. xo)

  2. You’re such a good egg, Mer. Seriously. This makes me want to go find something philanthropical to do, like right now. You’re awesome, and inspiring <3

  3. You’re awesome! Your pup pics make me want to adopt all the pits! For some reason, though, my hubs says no because apparently four dogs is plenty. I’m sure they are SO appreciative of your walks with them and you snuggles.

    Giving back does wonders for the soul and the community. I’ve supported my local AKC Pug Kennel Club by serving as secretary, and next year, as president. I’m also considering working with this domestic abuse organization serving the Denver deaf community, http://www.deafdove.org/. But as you said, finding the time can be challenging!

    You make me want to find the time, though, Mer. <3

  4. This is so great! I have never volunteered at an animal shelter. I don’t even know if there is anything like that around here. One thing we like to do is volunteer at the senior center. They have a night where volunteers come and wrap presents for seniors. It’s fun and rewarding!

  5. I’m going to start calling you the Mutt Adoption Whisperer. I volunteer with Lab Rescue – shocker, I know – but sadly have had two bad experiences with fostering. So sticking to transports is what we’re all about! I LOVE the idea of being a pooch exerciser, I’m just afraid I would get too attached! The one time I went to the shelter with a friend who was adopting a mutt, I had to wait outside as it was too upsetting to see all those unwanted critters. Ain’t nobody got no time for a weeper! I may just give it another go though, so thanks for the inspiration. ๐Ÿ™‚

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