Candace Karu

Paying It Forward - Getting Started on the Path to Volunteering

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    "Though government has an important role to play in meeting the many challenges that remain before us, we are coming to understand that no organization, including government, will fully succeed without the active participation of each of us. Volunteers are vital to enabling this country to live up to the true promise of its heritage."     William Jefferson Clinton

In a world turned upside down by economic uncertainty, the most vulnerable are often the most affected. While few have emerged from recent financial events unscathed, many of us are still in a position to lend a hand to those in serious and immediate need. Volunteering on any level - locally, nationally, or internationally - can make a real difference, in one life or in many.

Volunteering is no longer the province of stay-at-home-moms and high school students. There are volunteer opportunities for everyone, even the busiest professionals. The internet has made finding the perfect volunteer situation fast and easy. Following are links to help you get started: Since 1998 VolunteerMatch has made over 4 million volunteer matches. They represent almost 70,000 organizations that need help in areas like the environment, animal causes, health services, community, and women's issues. Getting started is as simple as entering your zip code and areas of interest. PaveAmerica was founded by Alison Czelusniak in 2004 to promote America's volunteer efforts. Pave's website has a page devoted to helpful tips on how to search for your best volunteer match. Find it here. This compresensive website not only allows you to search for volunteer opportunities in your community, it is also a place where you can share your volunteer experiences to encourage others to participate. It also allows organizations to register and invite others to join. USA Today called Global Volunteers International the "grandaddy of the global volunteer movement." Volunteering for a week or more where help is most needed throughout the world can be the volunteering experience of a lifetime. International Medical Relief offers short-term volunteer opportunities for medical and non-medical workers in some of the world's most underserved and neediest communities. IMR provides medical relief in areas where health care is limited and difficult to obtain.