Want to give back to your community, but not sure how? Here are five tips from L.A. Works project leaders to make your volunteering experience worthwhile — for you and those receiving your generosity. Click here for our opportunity calendar for a volunteer project near you that fits your busy schedule.
1. Go with your heart. “Volunteer for a cause that speaks to you,” says Ed Simon, who oversees craft activities with homeless kids at The Midnight Mission. “The closer it is to your heart, the more fulfilling it will be.”
2. Know before you go. “Sometimes people sign up unaware that this is a special-needs program,” says Crystal Garcia of KEEN (Kids Enjoy Exercise Now), which provides athletics for the disabled. “A little research goes a long way.”
3. Be flexible. “Volunteer morale could make or break a project,” says Kelly Newman who manages volunteers at Aviva Family and Children’s Services, a West Hollywood shelter for at-risk girls. “When trying to motivate our teens to go hiking for instance, everyone needs to be on the same page.”
4. Don’t flake. “A sorority signed up once to volunteer, and not one showed,” says Bona Tucker, founder of PetSave Foundation, a rescue for abandoned rabbits. “When you’ve got hundreds of rabbits to feed and clean, this could be a disaster. Advanced notice is key.”
5. Have fun! “Volunteering should be joyful, not a chore,” says Joe Mullich, who leads volunteers at Children of the Night, a shelter for former teen prostitutes. “Perhaps the greatest thing about it, apart from serving others, is working side-by-side with fun, compassionate Angelenos you might otherwise never meet.”
L.A. Works creates and leads hands-on community service projects throughout the region. Follow us on social media for all the latest: