Friday, 27 May 2011

Fun, Feel Good, Free

by Sadge, at Firesign Farm
I know many of you are busy with work, home, and family. The last thing you need is something else on your calendar. Maybe you'd make time for something fun, but money is so tight right now it's tough to figure out what to cut in order to afford it. I'm going to recommend you look into event volunteer opportunities in your community.

Non-profit organizations have their regular staff and scheduled volunteers. If you have the time and inclination to commit to a weekly volunteer position, by all means go ahead. But this post is about having fun - cheap thrills. Those same non-profits probably put on an annual fun fundraising event or two. And they're often going to need extra volunteers for that. As folks that volunteer know, giving of your time to help others is reward enough in itself. But there are usually other perks for event volunteers.

Maybe it's just a t-shirt. But there's also the sense of camaraderie - the building of your community. Find groups or events that fit with your interests or objectives. I'm active in a local group that advocates for pedestrian and bicycle safety and access - more paths and trails within our community. As an informational outlet, plus as a service to the community, we staff a free bicycle valet booth at our Farmers Market throughout the summer. I've signed up for a couple of Saturdays that fit my schedule. And I love it! Usually, when I stop by the Market to shop, I've got other things on my mind - a whole list of things to do. But the couple of times I work it, I know I'll be there the whole morning. I treasure the time to visit with friends and neighbors I haven't seen in a while.

Or maybe it's some time to yourself - time to just be. I recently spent a Saturday morning working a fun run/bicycle event for kids. Most folks worked the sign-in and start, but I volunteered to work the turn-around spot for the 5K. I spent a quiet couple of hours with my music and a thermos of coffee, gazing out over a green pasture watching the sunlight play over the clouds and the mountains beyond, clapping and cheering on each participant as they made it up to my spot then started back.

But sometimes, volunteering earns even greater rewards. For lots of events, volunteering is the ticket to get in free; oft-times even a chance for some quality time with someone special. My sister and I both like music - together, we'll volunteer-usher concerts we want to see. I've signed up my husband and me to work the local Taste of Downtown event next month. Instead of paying $70, we'll work as greeters at the door at one of the restaurants for part of the time, then "taste" for free the rest of the time. We'll also be working a few evenings at the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare and summer concert series. Since we always volunteer to work both before and afterwards, we get a meal too - gourmet dinner for two and a show under the stars. Date night, free! What's on your schedule?