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Wednesday, October 5, 2011


You've Wanted to Do It for Years

It's been on your mind. Oh, I know the feeling. Every so often you see a person, a place, or a thing, and you remember the urge. You feel that deep desire. You want it, but you don't know how it could possibly be achieved. Who would you even talk to about a matter of such delicacy? How do you disclose this secret longing to become...

A Volunteer!

As an avid volunteer myself I'd like to extend my hugs and well-wishes to all you other volunteers. And for those who haven't taken the plunge just yet... Well, have you thought about it? Most of us do. Even with all the work on my plate, I'm constantly contemplating heaping on another position. The more positions, the I right?

Honestly, it's easier than you think. "Events" are great to volunteer with because there's little commitment factor. You volunteer for the night or the weekend and that's it. If there's a cause close to your heart but you feel like you have nothing to contribute, you're wrong! Every charitable organization I've ever worked with has needed envelope stuffers. Or...imagine walking puppies for an animal shelter! If you're looking to break into a given type of employment but don't have the experience or training, there might be a volunteer position that can give it to you.

There are certain organizations that are particularly popular but have long wait lists (children's hospitals are a good "for instance") and if you're looking at frontline work with vulnerable individuals (again, working with youth in particular) that can require a police check and multiple rounds of interviews, but I work with some of those organizations and the time it took to get inside was absolutely worth the work and the wait. It's the most fulfilling work I've ever done. So if you've always wanted to [fill in the blanks] then absolutely go for it. Seriously. Go for it.

Most charitable organizations exist because there is a gap between services required for a given population and government support. Maybe the kind of organizations you care about most have been subject to funding cuts and need you now more than ever.

And volunteer work can be healing, too, especially if you seek out a position by thinking back on your own life and asking yourself, "When was there a time I needed help? Did I find that help? Where did I find it? Were there resources available to me? What about people in that position today? Are there adequate resources available to them?" In that way, you end up serving yourself. That probably sounds narcissistic, but I've done it and I continue to do it and there's nothing more moving than knowing I share an experiential bond with the clients I'm serving.

I'll leave my fellow Canadians with a resource called This website is great and it can help match you up with the kind of volunteer work you're interested in doing. At a glance, I see opportunities with...gosh, everything from Toronto Ribfest to Women in Leadership to Veterinarians Without Borders. There are postings for an Autism Therapist Assistant, Graphic Designer, Career Mentor, "Super-hero Dishwasher," Bird Monitor, Blogger, "Boys R Us" for AIDS Vancouver, Horticultural Therapist, Phone Volunteer, Writer, Vegan Products Researcher... whatever your skill set, there's something here for you.

And you know what? Finding that perfect volunteer opportunity is one of life's greatest thrills!

Big Hugs,

Eroticist Giselle Renarde ( is a queer Canadian, an avid volunteer, contributor to more than 50 of short story anthologies, and author of dozens of electronic and print books including Anonymous, Ondine, and My Mistress' Thighs. Ms Renarde lives across from a park with two bilingual cats who sleep on her head.


Debby said...

I do volunteering through my school, I teach at a city school and run programs for students after school. I do not get paid but I really enjoy them
debby236 at gmail dot com

wanda f said...

I volunteer at my local shelter walking dogs as well as at the non proft thrift store they have opened.The company I work for a doggie daycare is fostering a pup from there and I also got them to start a donation food bin for the shelter.

Giselle Renarde said...

That's wonderful--I love kids and animals!

Actually, since it's Thanksgiving this weekend here in Canada (ours is much earlier than the American one) maybe I'll put out a little reminder that a huge percentage of food bank users are children (at least in Canada--I don't know about US stats) and many of the people who need to utilize food bank services are working families. Food prices are on the rise, everybody's bills are going up, and yet we're not seeing our wages increase to match those changes.

If you're in a position to give to your local food bank, now's a good time to do it. In fact, any time is a good time!