Tag Archives: Volunteer Opportunities

Fast Track to a Vegemite Sandwich?

Ever do those word puzzles in the newspaper that make you find the prefix to a set of words? Try this one: What’s a prefix for  -fiche, -scope, and -volunteering?

Give up? Try “micro”.  Maybe some of you don’t remember microfiche, and it’s probably been years since you actually used a microscope, but I’m sure you’re wondering “What the hell is micro-volunteering?”.  Enter The Extraordinaries.  That’s right – this website is made just for you, oh internet-obsessed blog reader.  I’ll admit I was skeptical at first, I mean – what good could I possibly do from my computer? Well, not only could I volunteer from my bed (no judging), but it only takes about 35 seconds to make a difference.  Seriously.

I started perusing opportunities on The Extraordinaries after a prompt from AmeriCorps Alums – they’re using the site to map projects for National AmeriCorps Week.  So, I searched for “trails”, wondering how the land trust I work for might think about using it (obviously there is some paradox when you’re microvolunteering for an organization based on getting people outside) – I found a similar organization who’d asked people to use gps on their phones to map trails.  Now, I was intrigued.  Searching the site a little more, I somehow got stuck volunteering for a museum in Australia that needs help tagging its photo archive.  It’s almost like playing a slightly boring computer game – but you really are helping out! Heck – how many times have I searched our archives for a photo of a kid on a trail on a bike with a helmet to use for some promotional material? Not the easiest task.  If only I had a micro-volunteer, tagging away from the comfort of their own home (or smartphone).

While I see the use for microvolunteering, I am a little concerned.  Isn’t part of the benefit of giving back the connections you create with the organization and other volunteers? Is there really a way to build community through this form of volunteerism? Could it be used to recruit volunteers for other positions in an organization once they’ve helped you on the web? The internet constantly astounds me – so I guess we’ll just have to see how far this microvolunteering thing goes.  As for me, I’ll probably continue to give a few minutes to random organizations like the Powerhouse Museum…maybe they’ll find out I’m such an amazing image tagger that they’ll hook me up with a trip to the Land Down Under.  I’ve been dying to try one of those vegemite sandwiches…

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Those Freaks!

Ever think that things just couldn’t get any weirder? Yeah? Well, you obviously don’t work with volunteers.  Any volunteer manager or coordinator knows that volunteers are – I’m just going to say it – whack jobs.  Seriously.  And just when you think you’ve met the weirdest one, here comes another.

So, what makes us volunteers so dang crazy? My theory is that we all like to pretend that we enjoy service because we are saving the world, while we’re really playing a grand game of “what’s my job?”.  My favorite volunteer experiences? The ones where I took on a role I’d never have the opportunity to do in normal life.  That’s probably why I loved the MPBN gig so much – suddenly I’m a superstar, answering phones and gaining fame and fortune across the airwaves.  Same thing happened when I volunteered at the NYC AIDS walk – who knew that I was a super-badass security guard?  Oh, and that mentoring thing? Yeah, that’s me practicing to be a good mom (shh).

Now, what does this have to do with anything? Well, I guess I’m starting to get a reputation for being one of those whackjob volunteers…like writing a blog about my obsession with service hadn’t tipped everyone off already.  So, tonight I checked my email for the umpteenth time and what appeared before my eyes? Let me show you:

“The Lisbon Conservation Corps is looking for a volunteer to wear a fish costume at our youth fishing day. If you know someone who might be interested, however I am asking you because you are not only all wonderful people, but wonderful people in small packages – that wouldn’t burst the costume like an individual like myself would.”

Ok, so he wasn’t asking only me, but still.  Do I want to wear a fish costume?? I think that goes a bit beyond this whole pretending to be someone else thing.  Would I need to do a special fish song and dance? And am I supposed to be happy or sad when all these little kids are poking my friends with sharp objects disguised as food? I don’t even know where Lisbon, Maine is.  But yet, sort of secretly, I think it sounds like the most fun EVER!

If you or someone else you know is petite, wants to be a fish for a day, and could actually get to Lisbon, Maine on May 2nd, let me know! I’ll pass your info on to Luke without even mentioning how much of a freak you are.

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