Ask an Expert: Pamela Sybert

How can you make a difference volunteering?

Photo by Mike WoodruffSummertime is an ideal time to use a school break or vacation to give back to your community.

“There can be great benefits to volunteering, both professionally and personally,” says Pamela Sybert (’71, ’80 M.S., ’99 M.S.), director of the Educational Consortium for Volunteerism within UNT’s College of Public Affairs and Community Service. “And if your experience and motive for volunteering align, it can be very rewarding.”

She offers the following advice for getting involved in a community service project:

Recognize the benefits

  • Learn new skills, use old skills differently or test out a new profession.
  • Fulfill a requirement to volunteer for a class or meet a community service mandate.
  • Meet other like-minded people, give back and even model volunteer behavior for others.

Consider the possibilities

  • Look for online jobs. Without leaving home, create an e-newsletter, enter data or search for grants.
  • Volunteer your vacation. Travel and volunteer simultaneously for a mission trip, archeological dig or work in a clinic or on a farm.
  • Get started with special events. Fun runs and galas are a good way to become involved.

Find a match

  • Follow your passion. What would you like to see changed?
  • Find organizations by searching online and asking friends. Consider your willingness to travel and your availability.
  • Be prepared for an interview. The organization may want to identify your skills and talents. If it is not a good fit, you may be referred to other agencies.
  • Have healthy expectations. Good organizations should help you learn their mission and give you clear direction, but they will expect you to fulfill your commitments.
     

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