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The Secret to Community Leadership

Many people have asked me how did get this or that opportunity over the years. My answer is always the same: #volunteer. Sometimes people ask about volunteer opportunities and others just blow off what I just said like I am being "extra" or flippant. But, it's the truth. Volunteering is how I access information about opportunities both paid and otherwise, connect with new people, develop relationships with old acquaintances, and express my care about the things I am most passionate about in the community.  Through volunteering (directly or indirectly), I have received jobs, clients, real friends, business partners, furniture, my home, event tickets, and a couple trips. I am not saying that anyone should begin volunteering to see what tangibles he or she can accumulate, but I am saying that the shift in mindset one takes to be a doer...a part of a team no matter what his or her credentials might be, can help shape a leader that is respected and valued within the community at large or within segments that can deem valuable in the future.

At times in my life (take now for instance), I really can't volunteer anywhere on a consistent basis. But, there has never been an extended amount of time in which I cannot volunteer in some capacity.  So, what prompted me to go on this tangent about volunteerism? I received a wonderful email this morning from a Washtenaw County representative boasting of a new volunteer database. Here is an excerpt from that email:

This virtual Volunteer Center will connect people interested in volunteering with local nonprofits that rely on volunteers to achieve their mission. More than 65 agencies have listed more than 160 needs and counting on the new site. The site will accommodate individuals as well as groups, and will be provided at no cost. We're very excited to help people do what they love. For others.  It's just one more way United Way of Washtenaw County is filling a need in our community.

How it works:The new Volunteer Center website makes it easy for people to find opportunities to serve. At the newVolunteerWashtenaw.org, volunteers can: ·         Search the volunteer needs by scrolling through the full list or you can narrow it down to suit your preferences;  key word search, interest area categories (such as education or senior citizens), by court-ordered appropriate, activity type (such as construction or mentoring), one-time needs, ongoing needs, group opportunities, distance, date, and more.·         Explore agencies that are doing amazing work in our community, from human services to animals to the environment to the arts. Learn more about what they do, where they're located and what needs they have. ·         Easily sign-up for volunteer opportunities online.
·         Become a fan of agencies or update interests in their profiles to receive notifications of new volunteer needs.
·         Invite and register a group for a volunteer opportunity.
·         Log  volunteer hours to keep track of work for school or civic resume
·         Share opportunities via email or social media at the click of a button.
·         See other nonprofit needs: in-kind donations, advocacy and employment
·         Browse Community Events that are happening in Washtenaw County.
 It’s fast, it’s easy and it’s free! And to add to the fun and celebration of the launch, enter to win a Zingerman’s Gift Card now through Oct 1! Read more about the launch contest online.

If you happen to live beyond Washtenaw County in Michigan, please feel free to check out some of the spots I have used before:

1. www.volunteermatch.org
2. www.volunteerspot.com
3. www.meetup.com

Les Go and Do!!


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