52 Volunteer Activities In 52 Weeks!

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Boom! New project. Here we go, y’all!

As you can tell by the title, I plan to do 52 volunteer activities in 52 weeks.

So, what does that mean? What are my rules and guidelines here?

Well, I won’t stick exclusively to 501(c)(3)s. Sure, I plan on doing a good amount of work for straight up charities. However, I’ll be happy to volunteer for some races (which, while they do usually do give money to charities, they are also often profitable). I’d also be happy to give time to political candidates I believe in.

And I’ll be doing other various things that I find fun, interesting, or worthwhile – even if they aren’t related specifically to an official charity.

I’m a member of two unions, and I hate to admit, I’m not very active in either. So, I’d be happy to volunteer at some I.A.T.S.E. or Equity event. I also should really try to be more involved in MENSA (especially since I am on the board of the Los Angeles chapter).

The point is, there are plenty of things I can get involved with, without having to focus solely on charities. But hopefully, the plan is that everything I volunteer for gives at least some good to the community.

I will also try to change up my activities as much as I can. Because I’m aiming to do 52 of these bad boys throughout the year, I may end up repeating some things. But even if I technically repeat, I’ll try to change it up within the repeating… If I volunteer for multiple races, I may try to work a water stop at one, and the finish line at another – or something like that.

I’m going to try to have as many cool/different/new experiences as possible. So, there shouldn’t be tons of repeating. But I’m not going to be a stickler about every experience needing to be with a different organization, or done using a completely different skill-set than the previous activity because I think that’s getting to rule-y for what I want to accomplish here.

In 2012, I did a project that was very much about me. Sure, I raised money for an awesome charity that I very much believe in, in the process, which was great. But my overall project was very much about me returning to running, and there was tons of selfishness in it. I got tons of help from strangers. People gave me rides, vouchers for plane tickets, and other lovely helpful gestures.

It’s time for me to give back. I don’t mean just give back because I feel like I owe it to people, the universe, or whomever because of kindness received during my 52 half marathons. I mean I want to give back because we are all interdependent upon one another.

I don’t live in a bubble where I should just get to expect everything I want and need without being part of the whole system of helping others. I want to give back, give forward – just generally put good things out there. After all, if I don’t stand up to do it, who will?

I feel like it’s so easy to get wrapped up in everything else going on in life. How could we possibly make time to volunteer for things when we have all this other life stuff going on (day jobs, marathons, creative projects, friendships, social media accounts, the freelance hustling game, and on and on and on)?

But, I’m pretty sure the time is in fact there, as long as we are willing to give it.

I know that sometimes it seems in order to volunteer for things, you need to give a huge time commitment, or if not a huge one, at least a small one for a long time (therefore making it somewhat huge after all). But in researching this project, I’ve learned that there are a number of easy one-offs you can do just whenever you have the time.

It’s often so hard for me to commit to anything since my schedule changes a lot, depending on my job. My hope is that through this project, I can be shown that volunteering can be possible under practically any circumstances. Let’s see if it is! My first volunteer activity is tomorrow night!

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