By Sonya Friesen
We at Volunteer Ottawa are well aware that there are many myths that surround the concept of volunteering. After surveying some local Ottawa citizens, we narrowed down the misconceptions to the top five. Prepare yourself, because we’re about to debunk those myths.
1. “Volunteering is waste of time.”
Volunteering is an incredibly self-less act, but there are also so many inherent associated benefits that these opportunities can offer you. Not only does volunteering make you feel like a better person and allow you to give back to the community you live in, but it also provides you with the opportunity to meet new friends, network with other professionals in different fields, and gives you the chance to expand your horizons and try something new. Volunteering is way to further your career, grow as a person and give back – with benefits like that; it would be a waste of time to NOT volunteer.
2. “I must commit to an extended period of time in order to volunteer.”
Just like volunteers, volunteer opportunities come in all kinds of shapes and sizes – weeklong opportunities, one-day commitments, or volunteering that can last for years. In the end, there is a volunteer opportunity for everyone. Have a day off this weekend and looking for something to do? There’s a volunteer opportunity for you. Looking to commit 15 hours of your time a week towards a great case? There’s an opportunity for you. Looking to fill your 40-hour requirement for high school? There is definitely an opportunity for you. The Volunteer Ottawa site offers you a chance to filter down all our opportunities along specific requirements including time commitment, location, availability and clientele.
3. “Volunteering is boring.”
We’ve all been there – watching the clock slowly tick away the time until your various volunteering commitment is over. But, unlike the popular societal myth, volunteering doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, it can be an amazing opportunity to get together with your friends, spend a day in the sun, or interact with people who enjoy the same things you do. Volunteering is what you make it. There are so many different and unique organizations out there – it becomes a matter of which opportunity would fit you best. If you hate watching hockey, then yes, volunteering at the minor league tournament might not be the most fun or enjoyable way to spend your time. But when you find an opportunity that you enjoy, or when you bring friends along with you – volunteering stops being work and it starts becoming fun.
4. “It’s a long and extensive process to become an organization’s volunteer.”
While some volunteering opportunities require you to provide certain documentation like police checks or other mandatory requirements, organizations don’t want to push potential volunteers away. Actually, they want to make it as easy as possible! There are many tools at your disposal, like the Volunteer Ottawa website (volunteerottawa.ca), VO Twitter (https://twitter.com/VolunteerOttawa ) and Facebook pages (https://www.facebook.com/OurVolunteerOttawa) and the VO Roundup which is published monthly on this blog. Keep checking out Volunteer Ottawa for many upcoming opportunities. Some may require more documentation than others, but many just require a simple email introduction or phone-call. Don’t let this myth turn you away- we want you to fall in love with volunteering.
5. “There are already enough volunteers out there…what more can I do?”
It can sometimes seem that everywhere you go you are surrounded by volunteers; at the mall, at the coffee shop, and even at the local gym. Having so much weekly contact with local volunteers can make it seem like there are already a large assortment of people willing to give their time– there is nothing more you can do to help that other people can’t already offer. But for every hard-working volunteer you come across during your busy day, ten more are needed. There are thousands of organizations in Ottawa alone that run solely on the support of volunteers and donations. There is an unrelenting and consistent demand for volunteers- any help or time you are willing to offer is not something that will go unnoticed or over-looked. Each person brings their own unique set of skills to a volunteering opportunity – your good with social media? You can run an organization’s twitter! You’re an amazing painter? You can get involved with helping out a local art gallery. There truly is something for everyone.