Like so many of our friends, you’ve probably given something up for Lent. Maybe it’s that extra hour of television each night. Or maybe it’s a beloved glass of wine, or your favorite brand of potato chips, or maybe you’re like another friend of ours who decided she was going to go meatless for Lent.
These are all fine, admirable goals. But what if you turned the traditional idea of Lent on its ear? What if next year you decided you were going to add something? We’ve been thinking about this a lot, since we stumbled across something called “40 Acts,” which encourages you to do something each day of Lent, as opposed to giving something up.
So we thought, what if we could do something really meaningful every day of Lent? What if giving up that glass of wine meant we had $5 more each day to donate to a worthwhile cause. Or giving up that extra hour of Netflix meant we had more time to spend engaging in meaningful conversation with someone who might really mean it?
And then, we thought, What if that became a habit? And you know what? We became irrationally, wonderfully empowered–and inspired.
A quick Google search led us to some places to volunteer in our immediate area of Los Angeles, but we became rapidly overwhelmed with ways to help. So we created this quick guide to helping you to volunteer smarter and better–and hopefully, to making a change in your life that isn’t just about giving stuff up, but is also about putting great things out into this world–and, ultimately, adding to your own life.
The Hips and Curves Guide to Finding a Great Volunteer Fit
- Decide which area you’d like to volunteer in. We don’t just mean geographical, we mean what type of volunteering you want to do. What are you passionate about? What skills do you have that you can immediately pass on to someone else? And, yeah, geography is important. Sure, there are lots of opportunities for someone who lives in a big city, like we do, but if you’re in a rural area, don’t let that frighten you. Guess what? There are people in need everywhere.
- Decide what you’d like to give–and how much. When you find a cause you’re passionate about, it’s easy to get carried away and let that cause take over your entire life. Don’t risk volunteer burnout. You want to make a lifelong change, so pace yourself. Ask yourself how much time your can realistically donate, or, if you decide to support a cause in a monetary sense, how much you can afford to put away, for your chosen cause.
- Enlist your friends. So much is better with friends, and volunteering is one of them! Someone we know who hates painting walls was roped into painting an entire bank of school lockers one year, and it still remains one of the best experiences of his life. But when he talks about it, he doesn’t talk about the painting–he talks about the great connections he made that day, the friendships he deepened. When you work at something meaningful together, it only adds to your relationships.
One day at a time, Lent encourages us to remind ourselves of what’s important. And we think this is a great way to do it.
What did you give up for Lent, or what have you added to your life? Tell us in the comments below.