Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Use your hands.

After finishing grad school five years ago, I decided that I needed to get involved in the Atlanta community and meet some new people. I'd lived here six years but most of that time had been spent in the lab. I wasn't sure how to start or where to volunteer so I contacted Hands On Atlanta, "a non-profit organization that helps individuals, families and corporate and community groups find flexible volunteer opportunities at more than 400 service organizations and schools." I did my first workday at MedShare International, and later joined TeamWorks to meet more people and try more projects (including MedShare again). The new folks eased my transition out of school and the relationship with MedShare has been a lasting and fruitful one.

You too can find volunteer opportunities in your area. Hands On Atlanta is an affiliate of the Hands On Network which works with organizations throughout the US and in several countries around the world, including South Africa, China, The Philippines, and Brazil. Here are just a few of the ways they'll help you use your hands:

* Serve your community by joining and participating in the Hands On affiliate in your area. For example, Hands on Atlanta lists over 200 service projects each month, so you're sure to find one that you enjoy and helps others in your community.

* Study at the Citizen Academy, a site "designed for people to learn more about community issues, to explore frequently asked questions, find ways to take action [and] test your knowledge on an issue." Subjects include literacy, environment, animal support, housing, youth, technology, and more.

* Join the Hands On Network. This is a great way for your nonprofit organization to get dedicated and exited volunteers. The Network "supports a gro wing international membership that offers resources to a va riety of organizations engaging communities in service."

* Build your business presence by participating in corporate volunteerism. "Many companies support and promote employee volunteering because of its perceived benefits to communities, employees, and companies themselves."

By volunteering in your community, you can "be the change" you want to see in the world. Join today!

"If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else." - Booker T. Washington

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