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razz
1-31-16, 5:00pm
Since my life has regained a sense of normal again but in a new setting, I am reviewing my volunteer efforts. What is doable? desirable? too much? too little? How does one decide?

Monthly - a members newsletter for the local art group; soup kitchen staff; water/fertilize library plants; arrange a light lunch for the horticultural society meetings.

Weekly - mentor a very lively 6year at his school for an hour.

What works for you?

ApatheticNoMore
1-31-16, 6:12pm
not much. I've done stuff, helped to build up organizations and ideas etc. in the past, mostly when I had more time. Life feels chronically behind the 8 ball of too little time. It's what you do? OMG we are mostly all compulsive do-ers in a world without satiation at this point in time.

But I would tend to group all pro-social actions into one category. Pro-social meaning for the larger community, not just one's loved ones and friends etc.. Taking things to be recycled or to electronic waste is a pro-social action, studying the ballot for a local election might be (I don't have much faith in non-local elections but that is another topic), picking up litter, handing out some money to a homeless person on the freeway offramp, maybe shopping somewhere that truly is socially responsible (not greenwashing, not PR, the real thing, and of course shopping one had to do anyway), protesting if one thinks it is good, etc..

And I think at most a day a week to do things like this (a weekend day of course otherwise one is working, although maybe squeeze in a few of one's own chores that day too - we do live in the real world). And once in a while I think these actions should be not purely for what one cares about greatly (say for example the library is one's cause and what one is passionate about) but sometimes it shouldn't be about that, but pure altruism, purely because it's good.

early morning
1-31-16, 6:15pm
That sounds great, razz, and I'm sure you're much appreciated!! Right now my life is in too much turmoil to volunteer regularly. I do work with a small aircraft museum, and volunteer at some of their out-reach events, put together gift-baskets for their fund raising raffle, volunteer in the gift shop at most summer fly-in events, help with inventory - about 75 hours a year overall, but nothing I'm locked in to. Sometimes I volunteer at local EAA events also - again, not on a routine basis. I'd like to do a lot more - I'd love to be a docent at our art institute, and when I've ushered at local theater events in the past, I've really had a great time doing it. But right now, for me, what I'm doing is enough - it's working for me. It's enjoyable, and I'm helping an organization that's important to me. I think when people start resenting the time they are spending, they should stop and look at why they are doing it - perhaps they're in the "too much" phase.

early morning
1-31-16, 6:20pm
ANM, that's an interesting perspective - the pro-social category. I've never thought of it that way. We recycle, and pick up recycling for several places that wouldn't do it otherwise. I teach social studies, so I'm very interested in local elections - it never occurred to me to think of that as a pro-social action, it's just something I've always done. Ditto with the giving out of money to homeless people. Food for thought...thanks!

iris lilies
1-31-16, 9:22pm
Awwww, razz, do you really want me to pontificate about this? :~) Seems like that is all I do.

today was typical:

We ran over to our neighborhood's headquarters to move a bunch of boxes containing historical documents to a safer place. I am on the Historical Records Committee of our neighborhood Association. We have an important neighborhood here in the city and we have documents of its formation going back 40 years. My committee will formulate a plan for these documents.

Two hours later, an adorable young couple knocked on our door. They are new neighbors! They brought a bottle of wine! I am the "block captain" here and am supposed to make contact with new people, tell them the scoop, invite them to the online discussion group and etc. They made my job so easy by introducing themselves, yay for them! Now I will add their contact info to lists, invite them to our online neighborhood, mentor them until they find their younger and more fun group.

In the middle of the afternoon we went to a plant society meeting where I was elected President And DH was elected VP. We are taking on the leadership of this dying organization to nurse it through to the end of 2017 and then it will fold. Or
I am out, whichever is first.

We also reviewed with the show chairman our willingness to set up and tear down the World Daffodil Convention taking place in St. Louis April 6.

We came home to emails that contained a batch of organizational documents from our community garden's committee to revamp leadership. DH is leading that effort, he wanted me to read the documents as a second set of eyes.

We are off today from a volunteer effort we've been doing for 2+ weeks: the head of bulldog rescue was hit by a car. We are taking up some of the slack of her work and are visiting her daily, first in the hospital, now home where we take her meals.

When I retired I knew I would not volunteer for any more organizations, but I knew that Id get involved at a much deeper and more detailed level with organizations for which I already volunteer. That has turned out to be true.

here is the Tl; dr


In summary, these are our volunteer efforts:

our neighborhood 1) community garden 2) historical records committee 3) website development 4) block captain

plant societies 1) lily society 2) daffodil society 3) iris society 4) National Garden Club design club and judges training

bulldog rescue 1) board member 2) personal help for incapacitated President 3) clerical help national and local. 4) foster, mentor rescue dogs

razz
1-31-16, 9:46pm
Yep, IL, I wanted to know and am glad that you shared your many efforts. I too like the pro-social category. That makes volunteering doable for most and manageable for those who are already committed.

iris lilies
1-31-16, 10:02pm
Yep, IL, I wanted to know and am glad that you shared your many efforts. I too like the pro-social category. That makes volunteering doable for most and manageable for those who are already committed.

It is a freaking wonder that anyone can read my posts, made with the stupid IPAD, handy but supportive of error.

Williamsmith
1-31-16, 11:11pm
It is a freaking wonder that anyone can read my posts, made with the stupid IPAD, handy but supportive of error.

IL.....I love my iPad.

I used to volunteer. I visited people in crisis. Death in the family. Illnesses, often cancer. I mostly sat with them and listened. I found a time when my capacity to absorb the sadness became saturated. I began to be overwhelmed with the situations wishing I could heal them. I began to question why these things happened and I realized it was time to quit volunteering. I believe one can become over exposed to grief. So I make it a rule to truly volunteer.....not be solicited. I have learned how to say no.

danna
1-31-16, 11:51pm
In the last couple of years I have tried to volunteer...a lot of times it has worked out that I get as much out of it
as I think I give. I drive but have chosen my volunteerism to be mostly in my neighbourhood because I think as you
age or maybe it works for everyone to try to know you neighbourhood/neighbours. It has brought people into my life and new skills to be learned.
---Treasurer for my TOPS group--makes be at meetings every week to collect money but, also makes me go for myself. Bank Deposits and keeping of Records.
---City run seniors home..weekly afternoon in Tuck Shop...monthly meetings--at least once a month actively with residents--yearly a couple of fundraisers.
This year I accepted the position of VP of the Auxiliary so a little more responsibility. They have volunteers that are there almost every day but, that would
feel too much like a job to me and I don't want that.
---I have spent a lot of hours convincing city people to get and complete bike lanes.
---Support for Political candidates that are pro people and the environment.
I love if I can think of things that work out for more then one thing.
Book sale or clothing exchange at the TOPS group with what doesn't sell being donated to the Seniors home...win...win.

Tammy
2-1-16, 12:03am
Like William I don't volunteer much. Working in a mental health court ordered inpatient setting - well that's about all the emotional reserve I've got to give.

I do spend time a few days a week with my 3 grandkids. Their mom thinks I'm volunteering to help her. I think it's the best entertainment ever.

TxZen
2-1-16, 12:24am
2 hours a week in my son's classroom and I have some home stuff I do for his school- cutting box tops, assembling projects for them, which takes maybe another hour or so a week.

2016 is my year of no, and not from a bad perspective but just setting boundaries for myself. I tend to get in over my head and it tires me out.

kally
2-1-16, 2:21am
I tutor.

ctg492
2-1-16, 6:26am
I have tried a few groups and organizations. For myself I have found helping my loved ones and neighbors, donating to groups that mean something to me, works for me.

The worst volunteer day I had was three years ago. I had bike ridden past a Fen Preserve for a few years. I would see the signs but really did not know. One sunny day I saw a lady in the ditch collecting seeds. I stopped and spoke to her. She gave me info about the Fen and volunteer days. Oh I thought this was my calling! Signed up and saturday came. I rode my bike the 10 miles with my bag lunch. The rain started as we got in assorted Jeeps to go cut down invasive plants. I was trapped in the middle of many acres in the rain with a group that had deep feelings for the FEN. The rain and 8 hours wore on and I wanted to get on the Jeep and bike home. At lunch break the small group of regulars talked about how people volunteer to put a Check in the Box and make themselves feel good. I thought Wow that is weird. I wondered WHY if this was so important, WHY did not the entire area know about this? Why was the goal not to give Knowledge to everyone about the invasive plants and such? What good did it do to work on this acres not give the knowledge to everyone. I left thinking these were Do Gooders to make themselves feel above everyone else, an elite group. I tossed my tick, thistle, wet clothes in the trash as I went in the house that day.

rosarugosa
2-1-16, 7:04am
Not much, I'm afraid, given my current work and commuting schedule. I try to donate some $$ to causes that are important to me, and I do the occasional one-day gig like Clean up the Woods for Earth Day. Sometimes I'll take a plastic grocery bag on my walk to the woods and clean up a bit of trash. I have two volunteer gigs in mind for retirement: helping to maintain the Rose Garden in Lynn Woods, and volunteering with Melrose Humane Society (cat rescue). It does worry me when I read that those who don't volunteer pre-retirement tend not to volunteer post-retirement.

razz
2-1-16, 8:15am
I can relate to the emotional saturation aspect. I find that I need strong boundaries in my volunteering to make it sustainable. I probably need to consider the introvert vs extrovert and stressful life parts of volunteering to understand my need for boundaries.

catherine
2-1-16, 9:00am
It is a freaking wonder that anyone can read my posts, made with the stupid IPAD, handy but supportive of error.

I'm replying to this quote because the first quote was a little long to "rely to" but I really enjoyed reading it. If they say that community involvement and social capital keep you alive, IL, you'll live to 120!

nswef
2-1-16, 12:48pm
It does worry me when I read that those who don't volunteer pre-retirement tend not to volunteer post-retirement. Rosa, I did not do much volunteering during my years of teaching, but now that I am retired I do some. I do an hour or so at the food pantry just down the street and a half day at the school. I don't want to volunteer far away- more than a 5 minute drive- or for long hours. But I am enjoying the little bit that I do. When teaching I was the union rep, but I considered that part of my job, not volunteering, although it was volunteering.

rodeosweetheart
2-1-16, 12:54pm
I used to volunteer a lot when I was not working or working part time. Then I got the job from hell and was working 70 hour weeks for very little pay. I will volunteer more when I recover from the job--still working part-time, but it's a full time teaching load. I did do some Bernie phone banking for the campaign.

Simplemind
2-1-16, 4:19pm
I do one 12 hour shift a week for a trauma intervention group (usually an unexpected death but can be any kind of trauma), then my husband and I do 2-3 days of Meals on Wheels which we love. I started that for him after he had his stroke because it helped him to practice remembering routes, orders and names. We have become very close to many of our clients. We also grow a huge garden in the summer and take most of it to the food bank or our MOW clients. I used to do Ski Patrol but haven't in a few years.
I am more happy volunteering than I ever was at work. I love helping people first hand and seeing the results as opposed to my previous job that was cloaked in negativity and interactions were overwhelmingly negative.

Rogar
2-1-16, 5:01pm
I volunteer about 25 hours a week each spring monitoring raptor migrations, which is basically standing on a ridge counting and identifying hawks and eagles on their way north. The organization that holds the data is a network of similar places around the U.S. and many or most of them use volunteer help. hawkcount.org. Also, our county has a huge open space program and during the summer I do a full day a week and have been in a couple of programs. One to inventory amphibians and one to inventory birds. They both fit what I enjoy and require a few new skills I've learned. I never had time to volunteer in my employed days.

Teacher Terry
2-1-16, 6:44pm
When I retired I volunteered with a few organizations for 3 years and quit about 8 months ago. I got sick of a few things: having to be somewhere at a set time, people acting too important and like it was life or death when it was nowhere close, people being bossy and most of it was grunt work. At 1 point I thought I had found the perfect opportunity. A home for young teen pregnant girls was opening and they wanted to prepare them for being able to support themselves etc. WEll I do career testing and counseling, academic testing etc so I offered to buy the tests which are expensive, do the testing and help the girls come up with a realistic career plan like I did when I was working with clients for 20+ years. I was basically told "Here are the volunteer positions we have available"- "Do you want one of them?" Uh-no. I have always helped individual people my entire life and continue to do that. No more group stuff for me.

razz
2-1-16, 6:48pm
TT, it is so frustrating when the organizations have limited scope for the volunteer skills available, needed but not included in the program.

bae
2-1-16, 7:01pm
I volunteer 24x7 for our local Fire/Rescue agency. This involves being on call from home and responding to events, as well as serving multiple 12-hour shifts in-station each month. There are also at minimum 4 drill sessions of 3-5 hours a month for various disciplines. So assuming 2 shifts minimum, that's 40 hours of time, before any calls are accounted for, and I generally respond to 3-4 calls a week on average, for 2 hours per call on average, unless it's a major fire/hazmat/technical rescue event, in which case the call can run for much much longer. So it's basically a half-time job, more so if you include the physical training/workouts necessary to consistently pass the physical/agility testing :-)

I also serve on the county Planning Commission, which generally involves one day a month of meetings/hearings, and probably 3-4 days of preparation/research for each meeting.

I'm also an elected official for a position that pays ~$200/month, and requires two 3-4 hours meetings each month, plus several days of preparation/other work outside our Commission meetings.

I'm on the board of our village's water system association - 1-2 meetings a month of 3 hours' duration, plus another 2-3 days of behind-the-scenes work each month.

I'm on the emergency preparedness team for our local neighborhood association, which requires a few hours a month.

So, I'm glad I'm "retired".

iris lilies
2-1-16, 8:22pm
I do one 12 hour shift a week for a trauma intervention group (usually an unexpected death but can be any kind of trauma), then my husband and I do 2-3 days of Meals on Wheels which we love. I started that for him after he had his stroke because it helped him to practice remembering routes, orders and names. We have become very close to many of our clients. We also grow a huge garden in the summer and take most of it to the food bank or our MOW clients. I used to do Ski Patrol but haven't in a few years.
I am more happy volunteering than I ever was at work. I love helping people first hand and seeing the results as opposed to my previous job that was cloaked in negativity and interactions were overwhelmingly negative.

i really
like approach to Meals on Wheels, you set it up to get specific things out of it yourself. That makes perfect sense!

We do bulldog rescue, and when we have foster dogs its not because we are doing it out of the goodness of our hearts, we do it because we love bulldogs. They entertain me. I am curious about any one of them, I like the variety of bulldog personalities that come through our house, it adds life and spice to our household, they enrich our lives.

Williamsmith
2-1-16, 8:46pm
I did forget......I was a baseball coach for ten years. I guess that qualifies.

Teacher Terry
2-1-16, 8:59pm
I was also on the fundraising committee for an online rescue group for dogs. WE got one of our dogs from them. WEll I was racking my brain to come up with ideas and then it would take the 2 woman that started the group forever to say yes or no. A friend of mine that fostered for that group said she thought some of my ideas were great and they should have let me do them. They did say yes to some but it took so long that your enthusiasm wanes. After a few years of it I and most of the others gave up. They no longer take in new dogs because they don't have enough $ coming in.

kib
2-1-16, 9:40pm
I'm not really one for volunteer groups, although I'm always willing to help out if I'm in the right place at the right time. What I don't mind doing is clean up. I take a bag with me when I walk and pick up and separate all the trash I come across. Sometimes I'll do that at the park but mostly in my own neighborhood. We also have beautification days in the neighborhood that I've been part of, and I've participated in a neighborhood gleaning project - there is a lot of edible citrus going to waste here and an organization is gathering some of it for the food pantry.

Lainey
2-1-16, 10:05pm
I have participated in the last 4 years on the Board of my professional association. It also helps that I can sometimes use my work place as a meeting space for our monthly meetings too because it's difficult for non-profit associations to find places that are a) free and b) have plenty of free parking. If I was a city planner I'd encourage some public spaces to be made available for meetings of non-profits.
But I won't be involved after June because I'm winding down til my retirement next year, and it's always good to step aside and let others volunteer too.

Until about a year ago I also participated in a once/month public park cleanup. Did that for 2+years and it was surprisingly satisfying - maybe it's the instant gratification aspect, plus locals who were in the park were vocal in their thanks.

I know that after retirement I'm going to decline all volunteering for at least the first 6 mos. Need to unwind and ponder my next activities before jumping into anything.

p.s. anyone who is participating in a non-profit group and dislikes the hassles of all of the meeting registration, fee collection, website set-up, etc. might be interested in starchapter.com This company charges a monthly fee and takes care of a lot of administrative type work that can make so many volunteers quit or not volunteer in the first place.

SteveinMN
2-2-16, 11:04am
Let's see:

- Treasurer of our non-profit neighborhood newspaper. I'd say that comes to an average of 25 hours a month all told. I sometimes write articles for the paper, too.
- Volunteer at the big local food bank. I'm usually on a crew that sorts donated meat/poultry/fish and (probably because I'm the youngest experienced member) I usually end up moving the packed boxes onto pallets. It's good exercise... That's 8 hours a month.
- I donate platelets at the blood bank every three months or so. Time and energy, right? And platelet donors don't get paid like plasma donors do -- though last time I was given a $5 Subway gift card. Donation takes a couple of hours plus intake time.
- I volunteer as a reviewer for the local high-school science competition. That calls for reviewing papers or judging the scientific method used by the students as they demonstrate their experiments. That's a once-a-year thing; let's say 8 hours a year.
- I have volunteered to provide artist support at local art fairs. What I do at my favorite fair, though, has become a paid position (at the expense of spending 35 hours over one weekend at that fair). There still are one or two for which I volunteer for a four-hour shift.
- I am on the phone bank for a local public radio station, answering as people make their pledges. That's 8-12 hours a year.

That's it, I think. I'm going to take a nap. lol

pinkytoe
2-2-16, 11:21am
after retirement I'm going to decline all volunteering for at least the first 6 mos.
This is my stance at the moment. Retired all of four days and thinking I am supposed to jump right into things which is my nature. I am thinking about doing volunteer work in the future but right now just contemplating my navel for a few more days. I have done quite a bit in the past mostly to do with native plantings, community food gardens, etc.

JaneV2.0
2-2-16, 11:50am
I'm with kib. I used to pick up refuse while walking, until our main street got sponsored by a family that has taken responsibility. Once, a guy stopped and asked me if I were a member of the garden society or something. That made me laugh. I would gladly take part in park cleanups or the like if I were able.

Historically, I volunteered at a hospital in my youth, which schooled me in the basics of volunteer as exploitee. Since then, I helped out at library book sales and to carry iron work/stage components around in the rain for a charity event. Also did take-downs at quilt shows. That was fun. Like others, I prefer helping out when the opportunity presents itself, and in the meantime supporting animal rescue charities financially. I'm not a fan of having to report to some organization on a regular basis. Mostly, I have a negative view of the politics of volunteer work.

razz
2-2-16, 12:24pm
Bae, your contributions are amazing but love the 'retired' aspect of it all.

Love reading the different options that others have chosen. I think that giving is innate in us but takes wisdom to find what is best or right at each stage of one's life.

I wished that I had taken a year off once i retired as I jumped right into too much and had to drastically cut back when I got overwhelmed. It would have been wiser to avoid this happening so some are much smarter than I was.

Lainey
2-2-16, 9:27pm
I also wish my Mega Corp. employer would be more creative with the volunteer opportunities. Seems like at my site they do a once/year volunteer effort like painting and planting landscape around a youth center or a veterans home - this is okay, but seems like we could be doing a lot better.
A better and more sustained volunteer effort would be to allow 1-2 of the many hundreds of engineers we employ to be allowed to take a year off to teach, or volunteer with a non-profit, or do an internship with a gov't agency to help improve its processes. Continue to pay their salary but call it an in-kind donation.

It would prevent burnout and also provide a big benefit to the local community at little relative cost to Mega Corp.

creaker
2-2-16, 11:01pm
Most Friday dinner times I'm at a soup kitchen washing dishes. Once a month doing food prep/packaging at a place that delivers meals to people homebound with illness. I do Disaster Services with Red Cross which involves taking oncall shifts and going to help people involved in home fires when it happens, but I really don't count it as volunteer time unless I'm called out.

Beyond those I try to find interesting opportunities. I volunteer at about 5 different walks each year, cleaned up parks on Earth Day, food banks and food pantries, removing invasive plants (the canoe one is really fun). Made bookcases for schools on MLK day, helped prep 1000's of pies to be sold for fundraising, cookout at veterans hospital, bound Braille childrens books, put together DNA models out of legos to be used in school science kits. Some events I organize and lead groups.

Boston area is chock full of volunteering opportunites, and a number of clearing house organizations to connect people to them. And volunteer Meetup groups. After a while you start connecting with the same people over and over. A lot of my social connections are people I've been volunteering with and we started doing things outside of volunteering.

I've been averaging between 175-200 hours/ year for a while now, I would not mind upping it a bit if I can more that fits my schedule.

LDAHL
2-3-16, 5:09pm
I'm the Treasurer of our local Habitat for Humanity affiliate. We have a building program, a home repair program, a retail store and a portfolio of mortgages to manage, so I get to exercise all my accounting and finance muscles. I also chair the Endowment Committee for my daughter's school. Between the two, I put in maybe 15-20 hours per month.

Once I have a sufficient independent income, I'm considering semi-retiring to non-profit work. The compensation is contemptible, but you get to associate with a lot of nice people.

Simplemind
2-4-16, 10:07pm
"Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in" Unknown.
I have to say that I am happier with my volunteer work than I ever was at the PD. I have never run into the politics or negativity. Everybody is very invested in helping people in need. No egos, no BS. Refreshing and feeds my soul instead of sucking it out.

bae
2-4-16, 10:23pm
"Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in" Unknown.


I love that!

Williamsmith
2-4-16, 10:51pm
I'm the Treasurer of our local Habitat for Humanity affiliate. We have a building program, a home repair program, a retail store and a portfolio of mortgages to manage, so I get to exercise all my accounting and finance muscles. I also chair the Endowment Committee for my daughter's school. Between the two, I put in maybe 15-20 hours per month.

Once I have a sufficient independent income, I'm considering semi-retiring to non-profit work. The compensation is contemptible, but you get to associate with a lot of nice people.

My late father-in-law was a retired union electrician. In many ways he was a remarkable self made man. He volunteered to build Habitat housing in our community. He built four houses. This was a man who never went past elementary school, often went barefoot in the summer, rode a mule for transportation and endured a lifetime of coping with a birth defect that crippled his left hand. He honored me by leaving all his tools to me and for many years before his death taught me to do things by myself instead of hiring out. Today I used a set of small box wrenches to fix a hand mixer and my wife helped. She said, "This is going to sound crazy but these wrenches smell like my dad." Those wrenches give us joy. Habitat For Humanity is a great non profit.

Zoe Girl
2-5-16, 1:15am
I have currently added volunteer work to my school job, and love it. I teach mindfulness lessons in classrooms at the school I run the afterschool programs at. I did 2 classrooms last semester and have 2 this semester. I think I will be done with the 8 week program and get another set in. I love it, it is such a simple and soothing practice that it helps me with my meditation practice as well. I think the best volunteer jobs are like that, make you feel almost selfish that you are feeling good while you are doing the work.

LDAHL
2-5-16, 10:40am
My late father-in-law was a retired union electrician. In many ways he was a remarkable self made man. He volunteered to build Habitat housing in our community. He built four houses. This was a man who never went past elementary school, often went barefoot in the summer, rode a mule for transportation and endured a lifetime of coping with a birth defect that crippled his left hand. He honored me by leaving all his tools to me and for many years before his death taught me to do things by myself instead of hiring out. Today I used a set of small box wrenches to fix a hand mixer and my wife helped. She said, "This is going to sound crazy but these wrenches smell like my dad." Those wrenches give us joy. Habitat For Humanity is a great non profit.

We have a small cadre of retired and semiretired skilled trades guys who devote a lot of time on our projects. You really can't build a code-compliant house with just enthusiastic volunteers, and the cost of a project goes way up when you need to hire masons, plumbers and electricians. In our little subculture, these guys are referred to as "saints".

razz
2-5-16, 10:46am
All these posts go to prove that there are a lot of good things happening, some small and some really large efforts but they all make a difference.

Gardenarian
2-5-16, 3:02pm
I'm still acclimating to my new home town, and plan to volunteer more in the future.

I currently volunteer one day a week (4 hours) at the public library. I really enjoy it; lots of little kids, friendly people, mindless busy work.
I am also a Friend of the Library and do occasional volunteering with them - weeding the library garden and helping to set up the book sale.
I'm taking course through OLLI (an adult education program) and have volunteered for a couple of events there.

I also do some individual stuff - picking up dog poop and litter along the alleys and in the parks, making seed bombs (native wildflowers/pollinators). Whenever I walk downtown I take a handful of quarters and some one dollar bills and spend time talking with the homeless.

In general, I prefer to volunteer for one-time gigs - like a day removing invasive plants or helping to rebuild trails. I do plan on becoming an emergency response volunteer, but the training hours conflict with my regular job.