Why You Need to Volunteer Early and Often. Don’t Miss Out on Rewarding, Real World Learning

Reasons to volunteer at www.LisaNalbone.comWhat can you get from volunteering?

Great opportunities for learning and connection, and the satisfaction of contributing beyond your self.  At least that’s what we got and I am sure you can, too.

 But, but, but what about money? What about time?

Find ways to live on less. It  isn’t always easy, but it can be done, I’ve done it.

Prioritize your time. It might not be easy. Choose. It’s worth doing.  Make time.

Figure what will give you the most value in helping you grow, learn, make a difference and enjoy life. Amazing things can happen when you get very clear on what is important to you.

 Volunteering can help you get your priorities straight.

In college I volunteered to help cut firewood in the Duke Forests for people who couldn’t afford heating costs that unusually frigid spring. The  contrast between the lives of the people we delivered the wood to, and life at my university changed the way I viewed the world. That weekend shaped my choices for the rest of my life.

After college I moved from North Carolina to Seattle, looking for new experiences. I took a receptionist position in a Fetal Alcohol Syndrome program. I thought I could make a contribution. Not.  The system did not encourage taking any initiative beyond my very limited, boring job description.

Attending a Hiroshima Day Event opened my eyes to how many other ways I could be spending my time. I started volunteering, after work,  with a peace and social justice organization.  I was excited, meeting a wider variety of people and being challenged to learn new skills. I wanted my time to count.

 Volunteering leads to new skills.

Deciding whether  to dedicate more time to volunteering than earning money after college was my first real debate over time versus money.

I chose time and quit my full time job. I found part-time work as a cook in a Mexican restaurant, a nanny, and later as a dental assistant. I learned to hustle, to manage my time and my money. A frugal gourmet was born.

As a volunteer I learned skills I use over and over again. I worked one or two days per week to support myself. The rest of the time I volunteered and learned:

  • meeting facilitation,
  • newsletter, flyer, poster, brochure writing and  production (typewriter era : )
  • how to do press releases, press conferences, local  pr
  • event logistics, planning and organization
  • consensus and community building, coalition building, community activism
  • public speaking,
  • fundraising,
  • non-violent communication, resistance and protest
  • educational resource management,
  • membership and volunteer recruitment and coordination
  • non profit leadership and management.
Volunteer Early and Often at www.LisaNalbone.com
Proud volunteers singing the Library Cheer.


Volunteering opens doors.

Volunteering led to jobs, connections, career development, unexpected opportunities, and fabulous friends for me and for my child..

I gained the experience and confidence and to carry out all kinds of projects. I had the support to meet new challenges and keep learning.

When Dale was two, I rallied other moms and we began a volunteer story-time program at our local library

We  sold books, baked, worked at events and helped raise funds for library. Dale had a  pretty seamless transition from baby-on-board to board member status.

Volunteering as early and as often as he did, people saw that Dale  worked hard and followed through. He was invited to try all kinds of activities beyond the volunteer work.

When Dale saw that our organization could benefit from a website, he offered to learn how to make one, and teach the rest of us how to use it.

Presto, new responsibilities, learning, and a huge leap in connections.

Dale’s volunteering influenced his college acceptances, scholarships, internships, and founding UnCollege.org.

For example, as a graduating homeschooled high school senior he applied for and was awarded the Yolo Youth Scholarship Award from the Yolo Community Foundation. Dale received a much needed funds for college and WFoL, the organization he loved and volunteered for, was also also awarded funds. Win -Win!

Volunteering is always a win-win!

He learned how to do things and work with a variety of people. He had a record in the real world.

As you look into your learning choices for yourself or for a child, consider that volunteering often pays longterm  dividends beyond wages.

In my book of A-Z learning strategies, of course, V is for Volunteer!

So, don’t forget, volunteer, early and often!

 Your turn:
Do you volunteer? Where? Is there some activity you have been considering?  What kind of service learning have you tried? Let’s talk in the comments, Lisa.