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Making the Most of Your Volunteer Year

Volunteering for one year can seem like so much time away from home, but time and time again volunteers tell me how fast their year has flown by. There are always things they haven’t seen, places they haven’t visited, or crafts they haven’t mastered because the year flew by faster then they expected. We go into our volunteer year excited for all the possibilities that a new city and new people have to offer, but it easy to get consumed in the day to day service once we begin to volunteer. So, as you begin your volunteer year and settle into your new homes in new cities, start making the most of your year now!

Maybe it’s just because I am an organizer, but I really believe the best way to make sure you are making the most of your volunteer year is to make a list of all of the things you are hoping to accomplish this year. This list is your starting point. It’s what you refer back to when you are homesick and the excitement and novelty of your new city starts to fade. This list will keep you focused on all of the reasons you are excited about service and all of the adventures and possibilities you will have this year.

This year is about the people you will be serving, but it is also about learning more about yourself as a person. Try new things, cook new food, and start new habits. Making sure you are doing things that keep you happy and fulfill your volunteer goals will help you to better serve those in your community. It’s important to recognize your own needs as part of your “self care” plan.

As you start to make your “bucket list” here are a 10 questions to get you thinking:

  1. What places do you want to visit in your new city? Historical landmarks, architecture, a famous restaurant, or maybe another MVC community that is close to you.
  2. What activities do you want to participate in? Maybe your new city is known for salsa dancing, you could join a club sport, or get involved with a youth group at your local school or church.
  3. What events do you want to attend? Sporting events, festivals, rallies and marches, or maybe even a concert.
  4. How will you live more simply? Think about your goals to live simply. Maybe not using a cell phone one day every week or committing to reading a book series in place of Netflix ( I know, I know).
  5. How will you be more intentional about community living? Learning to cook a new meal for your community on a regular basis or asking your community members to commit to an activity together (maybe a community bucket list!)
  6. How will you be more mindful of the environment? Reusable lunch bag and water bottle might be a good place to start!
  7. What are you hoping to make a habit this year? Whenever I move somewhere new I always recognize the potential to get out of my usual routine. This could be journaling everyday, running in the morning, taking time to grow your spirituality, start learning how to do yoga, or anything really!
  8. What activities are you trying to stay involved in? If you have always loved coaching little league then make sure you put it on the list! It’s not always about the new things so make sure to think about what already makes you happy (coaching, the gym, painting, etc.) and incorporating those things into your year.
  9. What social justice causes do you care about? Most cities have social justice awareness events which are great ways to meet people who are passionate about similar things. Protests and advocacy days are just a few ways to get involved! (MVC can help set you up with these events too!)
  10. How will you continue to be counter-cultural? Committing to a year of service is completely counter-cultural to what most of your peers are doing. Try to think about other ways you want to be counter-cultural this year.

Don’t hesitate to put things on your list that seem difficult to accomplish. This year is the year of new adventures, so be bold!

Comment below with ideas for what to add to a volunteer bucket list!


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