The Magic of Volunteers

I had the privilege to spend this past Saturday both coordinating volunteers and being a volunteer myself.  The latter was for Rauchfest, a fantastic festival from the marvelous Harriet Brewing, while the former was the annual Neighborhood Cleanup, an excellent opportunity for the residents of northwest St. Paul to get rid of any number of things and meet their neighbors.  Neither event could have happened without volunteers, and it was especially invigorating to be on both sides of the table.

Here’s the trick though: it’s surprisingly easy to get people to show up for a one time event that involves doing good and free food/drink.  It’s umpteen times more difficult to find people to do the repetitive in-office kind of work that is so essential to the functioning of a non-profit.  Stuffing envelopes and flyering for variances is decidedly un-sexy and doesn’t have many of the immediate community-building, fun-having perks that flesh out a volunteer based event.

There are a plethora of places to find volunteering opportunities.  As you are accosted by ways to get involved and do positive things in your community, what makes a particular volunteer possibility compelling for you?  How can the envelope stuffing and flyering needs of organizations be met in a fun, functional way?  What keeps you returning to work with a particular organization/event?

I’ll be helping at Powderhorn Empty Bowls next (the weekends of October have been swallowed by weddings and parental visits), a lovely mashup of art, food and community.  Join me if you’re in the Cities!

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