The Power of Volunteering with Boston Cares
Volunteering. It’s one of those words that automatically transports you back to high school and your college applications. The time when you were trying to do everything possible to ensure you had the most well-rounded application possible to set you apart from everyone else.
Now we have the opportunity to think about volunteering again but in a new context. This time there is no admission riding on the number of hours committed. Now, we can give back simply because it feels right.
I have always found that I feel good when I volunteer; a sense of accomplishment and giving back that begets a sense pride sprinkled with a touch of productivity. In December 2014, a friend asked me to join her at Card Night at Hale House -- a Senior home -- because no one else volunteered. Card Night? I know how to play cards, so I went. This was my introduction to Boston Cares and unbeknownst to me at the time, my return to volunteering!
Meet Boston Cares
Boston Cares is an organization that has been giving back to the community since 1991. Its flexible platform is what makes it so easy for volunteers to contribute to the community. By only asking that you commit to the single event you sign up for, Boston Cares removes the requirement to return to the same activity on a regular basis. That’s right. You can go to an activity and if it wasn’t something you connected with, you don’t have to come up with an excuse to never go back.
This model is similar to how we try to approach a savings account or exercise routine -- every little bit helps. The organization wants to encourage more people to volunteer without asking for an arduous commitment knowing most people live busy lives.
Each activity is team-oriented so you shouldn’t ever be alone which also makes it a social place to meet like-minded individuals. Sometimes it just so happens that you are the only one signed up for an event, but that just means you have the opportunity to make even more of a difference.
You are probably wondering what you’d have to do when you sign up to volunteer, “what am I getting myself into?” Good news: activities and events range from painting at the senior home to serving food at the local shelter to swim lessons with the Special Athlete’s program and so much more.
Activities offered are both physical as well as educational in nature so you can cater to your specific interests and strengths. Maybe you aren’t the type that wants to go swimming, well don’t fret, you can read to children on the weekends, tutor a high school student in history or even help with some admin work at the Boston Cares office.
The calendar schedule makes its incredibly easy to identify not only the types of events that interest you but also the days/times during which they occur.
I am now a volunteer leader with Boston Cares and continue to go to that very same Card Night every Tuesday playing an abbreviated form of Gin Rummy. I’ve created and grown so many relationships over the years because of my time with Boston Cares which is why I encourage everyone to stop and spend even just one hour doing some with the community.
Julia Blanchard is a content contributor for JUGs by night, by day she works at Amazon on some of Alexa’s feature expansion programs. You can follow her @jcblanchard6 on Instagram.