Life is about change and sometimes that can be scary. When we move to a new city, start a new job or go away to college we often lose many of our day to day connections that keep us grounded. Finding friends or a significant other, connecting with people at work or simply feeling like we belong can be a challenge.
There are many avenues open to us when we seek to establish or expand our social network. We could take classes, attend concerts or play sports but one of the best ways to connect with people is to volunteer. Helping others, regardless of the setting or circumstances, creates strong ties among the participants. These ties can grow into friendships and help us find our place in our new community.
Volunteering is also the perfect way to learn about a new city or school while meeting people who share our values. No matter where we move to, there will be a wide range of needs to be met so it is easy to select a service opportunity that blends our best skills with the right volunteer venue. The projects may take us to parts of the city we would never venture into under other circumstances and meet people we could never imagine knowing, but who enrich our lives. Through our volunteer efforts we come to know ourselves, as well as the people we serve and those we serve alongside of.
There are many ways to find volunteer opportunities in a new city:
- Talk to the people you work with or meet.
- Read the local section of the newspaper for lists of volunteer organizations and their meetings.
- Check the city’s website for a volunteer page.
- Find volunteer listing sites and plug in your zip code.
- If you are a member of a national non-profit group, attend a meeting of the local chapter.
Volunteering is also a great way to expand on a personal interest, apply skills we are learning in school and create a professional network. When we volunteer in an area of personal or professional interest such as children, environment, politics, elderly or home construction, we will meet others with the same interests and who may have the ability to assist us with our professional goals. Networking through volunteer connections can help identify employment opportunities or business relationships we would not have found through other means. When you help others, you never know when you might also be helping yourself.
The connections made through volunteer work are strong, as they are forged through helping others. The more we volunteer the tighter these connections become. We create a circle of friends and network of associates that are robust and vital. We find our place in our community.