9 Quotes to Inspire Your Volunteers (And Yourself!)

Guest post by Lesley J. Vos

Inspire Your Volunteers!Even the most devoted volunteers experience a lack of inspiration and motivation from time to time.

As a volunteer leader, it’s you who can change this. You can encourage your volunteers, engage and motivate them to grow, and become a source of inspiration!

There are many ways you can do this. What is one simple way? Sometimes the right words can perform magic, helping us reach new horizons and inspiring us to do good for others.

Share these awesome quotes to inspire your volunteers (and yourself next time your organization can use a little extra motivation!)

Wherever you turn, you can find someone who needs you. Even if it is a little thing, do something for which there is no pay but the privilege of doing it. Remember, you don’t live in the world all of your own.”
~Albert Schweitzer

Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve…. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

You can study government and politics in school, but the best way to really understand the process is to volunteer your time.”
~Rob McKenna

Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.”
~Elizabeth Andrew

“You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.”
~Winston Churchill

“Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain loving one another.”
~Erma Bombeck

You may not have saved a lot of money in your life, but if you have saved a lot of heartaches for other folks, you are a pretty rich man.”
~Seth Parker

Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in”.
~Author Unknown

The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.”
~Oscar Wilde

Keep Calm and VolunteerDo everything you can to create an amazing, inspiring experience for your volunteers– and you won’t regret it.

Because isn’t it a true happiness to help others?

About the author: Lesley J. Vos is a blogger. She writes for Bid4Papers and many other websites, sharing her writing experience and helping others improve their writing skills. Lesley volunteered for Euro 2012 in Ukraine, and she had a background in volunteer teaching of French for Ukrainian students.

Nonprofit Spotlight: Catholic Charities Community Services

Linda Tailleart of Catholic Charities

Linda holding her CVA certification!

In the 1970s, Linda Tailleart taught students in a Michigan classroom. It’s here that she first began working with volunteers.

“Volunteer engagement became my passion,” explains Linda. Now, she’s the Director of Volunteer Services at Catholic Charities Communities Services in Phoenix, AZ.

“Volunteers make such a difference to our organization, community, and the people we serve, by sharing their time, talent and love which infuses Catholic Charities with energy and passion,” says Linda.

Managing the volunteer program at Catholic Charities is no small endeavor. The organization currently has at least 100 different volunteer positions, in over 20 different programs. Domestic violence, immigration, foster care, human trafficking – these are just a small sampling of the causes areas Catholic Charities works on.

Volunteer videographer at Catholic Charities

Keshia, a volunteer videographer capturing client stories for Catholic Charities.

With all of these programs and causes areas, there’s a lot of choices for potential volunteers. Volunteers fill roles from “Counseling Interns” to “Filing Ninja” to everything in between.

“My joy comes from helping a volunteer find just the right placement,” says Linda. “We want every volunteer to feel that s/he makes a difference!”

One cause area that is important to Catholic Charities is homelessness. They run 5 programs aimed to alleviate homelessness in Arizona. They do everything from offering a safe place to shower, to finding housing, to offering treatment to those who are homeless and also struggling with addiction and mental illness.

Linda explains, “When you’re homeless and isolated, a day can seem endless without another person to talk to. The LOFT Day Drop-in Center in Cottonwood provides air conditioning in the summer, heat during the cooler months and a great place to socialize, job hunt, and stay in touch with family by phone or email.”

Pat, volunteer with Catholic Charities

Pat, volunteer at Catholic Charities’ The LOFT.

One volunteer that stands out to Linda is Pat. Why? Before becoming a volunteer, Pat was homeless himself.

As a former air conditioning/heat technician from Michigan, Pat watched his 26-year-career come to an end after a back injury and then faced divorce after 26 years of marriage. Through a series of events, he ended up experiencing homelessness in his late 40s.

For Pat, loneliness was the worst part of experiencing homelessness. He worried about getting water and food, showering, figuring a way to move on with his life—but the lack of human contact felt maddening.”

“If you’re alone enough, especially if you’ve had some traumatic experiences, your mind can go to some dark places,” says Pat.

Living out of his car for eight months, Pat found his way to Catholic Charities’ The Loft, a day center reaching the homeless population in Cottonwood, Ariz. When he first arrived, it was difficult to assimilate back into society.

“I was closed off,” says Pat. “But then I got a support system and started meeting people, and it helped me to open up.”

He immediately used the shower, kitchen and laundry services. Staff helped him to come up with a plan, and in six months, he moved into an apartment. He also got support to address health issues. Then, he took another big step and enrolled in Yavapai College to start a new career in education.

Now, he also volunteers at The Loft to help others. “I like working here, because at one time, I was in the same situation as the people that visit here,” says Pat. “I know how much this drop-in day center helps people… I wouldn’t be surprised if this place has saved lives.”

Pat comes in early to start the coffee, turn on the computers, launder the towels and restock the bathrooms. Then, when people start coming in, he provides a friendly greeting and guides them to needed resources ranging from food to staff support.

“Usually, when people come here, it takes them about a month to warm up to people,” says Pat. “They don’t have much to say. But once they get connected, it becomes a community.”

Your story can help inspire others to get involved! VolunteerMatch collects stories about volunteering to help illustrate the challenges and successes of nonprofits. How have volunteers helped you? What role has VolunteerMatch played? Share your story!

Stepping Outside Your Geographical Comfort Zone: A Volunteer Story

Guest post by Dylan Manderlink

Dylan Manderlink spent her summer volunteering for WWOOFAfter completing my first year of teaching in a public school in Arkansas, I decided to design my summer around volunteerism, giving back, seeing a new place, and restorative self-care.

Luckily, as a public school teacher, I had about a month or so of uninterrupted and school-free summer to enjoy. Volunteering for me, is restorative in so many ways – for my soul, mind, interpersonal connections, and of course and most importantly – the communities and people I work for and alongside.

I knew that after a year of experiencing the ups, downs, stressors, daily surprises and rewarding moments of teaching, I needed to give back to a community and productively contribute to the greater good in a different way.

After the bell rang marking the last day of school, I packed my bags and headed to southern Utah for a community service experience I will never forget.

WWOOF – World Wide Opportunities for Organic Farming

WWOOF is a network that “links volunteers with organic farms and growers where in return for volunteer help, WWOOF hosts offer food, accommodations, and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles.” This organization is optimal if you’re on a tight budget (like me!) and find great value in traveling purposefully – to see more of the planet in which we live, deepen your understanding of the nation we coexist in, meet and support local and diverse communities, and (hopefully) put more good out into the world – because we always need more of that.

This summer was my second time WWOOFing (I had volunteered through WWOOF once before in Kenny Lake, Alaska for three weeks) and I decided to volunteer on an organic vineyard in southern Utah. It was simply by luck that I found them, but I am so glad I did.

Why Utah?

Although I’m a public school teacher, and my salary doesn’t exactly allow for a lot of traveling, I have made a pact to myself to visit every state in our country. Not just drive through it, but spend an amount of time that allows for a meaningful experience. I want to learn about different communities in each state, what challenges they face, what value they hold and contribute to society, and how I can support their local community service efforts.

Beautiful Utah LandscapeUtah signified a new region of the country I had not yet seen or experienced. The state could not have been more different than Arkansas or New England (where I grew up and lived for most of my life), and I was tremendously grateful to be immersed in a place as unique as that.

The desert is vast, seemingly unending, dangerously hot, and beautiful in its comforting but overwhelmingly expansive way. Much of Utah’s land remains untouched, and unlike the Northeast and parts of Arkansas, you can travel many miles without running into a business building or populous neighborhood. The rural landscape and arresting natural beauty of the canyons and red rock were my daily views as I pruned the grape vines on the vineyard. Not only was I usefully contributing to an organic ranch and vineyard that sustained and supported itself by the goodwill and assistance of volunteers from all over the globe, but I was also seeing a new part of our country through a unique lens.

The Volunteer Work – Working with the Land

Getting my hands dirty and being more than okay with it was the motto of the summer. There is something particularly rewarding about serving outside and being immersed in the environment. Not only was it refreshing to be outside the whole day when most of my year was spent inside a classroom, but I was able to let nature and its unfailing honesty meaningfully shape my volunteer experience. From clipping grape vines, to planting, to weeding in the organic garden, much of my day was spent greatly appreciating and observing the environment around me and the people who have created a unique community within it.

Organic Farm in UtahI volunteered five days a week for about 6 hours a day along with other WWOOFers from all over the world. I engaged in culturally competent and stimulating conversations with those from across our nation and globe, discussed social and environmental injustices, and felt comforted by the spirit of volunteerism that was so generously shared by everyone on the vineyard. I left my WWOOF experience feeling re-inspired, bold in my passions for making a difference, and reenergized to enter the classroom and share my experience with my students.

Although I may not have been spending my summer at the forefront of a social movement or generating significant progress in areas I’m passionate about, the month I spent in Utah helped renew my faith in humankind, restore my sense of self, give back to a community that relies on that service, learn about other ways of life that exist in our nation and across the globe, personally contribute to the larger idea of sustainability, and deepen my understanding of what it means to be a volunteer.

Advice to Volunteer Coordinators and Nonprofits

If your organization is able, allowing your volunteers to work outside of their comfort zone – both in the geographical and emotional sense, will lead to a more fruitful, meaningful, challenging and personalized volunteer experience. The experience of having to redefine, readjust, and observe a new community, its Dylanassets, and its challenges through a unique, unadulterated, and adventurous lens is certainly a privilege and an opportunity that has the potential to teach a lot.

Some of the most memorable and impactful volunteer experiences I’ve had were ones where I left my comfort zone, traveled somewhere new, and surrounded myself with people I had never met. The abundance of new experiences excited me but also taught me how important it is to give back in ways that may not always be familiar, routine, or comfortable for you. Take a risk, see new things, meet new people, and engage in volunteerism…outside of your comfort zone.

Dylan Manderlink teaches Drama, Audio Visual Technology, and Digital Communications at a public high school in rural Arkansas. She graduated from Emerson College in Boston, MA and studied a self-designed major titled Investigative Theatre for Social Change.You can follow her on Twitter at @DylanManderlink.

Meet Hannah, Volunteer Yoga Instructor

Hannah Moran, volunteer with Mercy Housing

Hannah Moran, volunteer with Mercy Housing

Meet Hannah.

Hannah grew up with volunteering. However, it wasn’t until she started volunteering with Mercy Housing that she realized how truly enjoyable it could be.

Using VolunteerMatch, she found an opportunity that perfectly fits her skills and passions – teaching a weekly chair yoga class to low-income seniors.

At VolunteerMatch, we make it easy for good people and good causes to connect. However, since these initial connections happen online, we don’t always get to see firsthand the impact of these numerous connections – the impact on the volunteers themselves, the organizations they volunteer with, and the communities they serve.

That’s why we went out into our community to see what volunteers who found their connections through VolunteerMatch (such as Hannah) were up to.

In this short video, get to know the amazing work Hannah and Mercy Housing are doing together:

3 Good People, 3 Good Causes, 3 Perfect Matches

VolunteerMatch's Video looks at how 3 different volunteers are making a differenceA senior trying yoga for the first time. A bobcat that can’t go back into the wild being cared for. A brother and sister strengthening their English skills after school. 

These vastly different activities have one thing in common. They’re made possible by the passion of volunteers. 

At VolunteerMatch, we make it easy for good people and good causes to connect. With our network of 100,000+ organizations, it’s no surprise that VolunteerMatch has connected close to 10 million volunteers with causes that light them up.

However, since these initial connections happen online, we don’t always get to see firsthand the impact of these numerous connections – the impact on the volunteers themselves, the organizations they volunteer with, and the communities they serve.

That’s why we went out into our own community to see what volunteers who found their connections through VolunteerMatch were up to.

The results are truly moving.

In this short video, you’ll meet Louise, Sandra and Hannah, three volunteers making a big difference, each in their own unique way. We hope you enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed creating it!

3 Good People, 3 Good Causes, 3 Perfect Matches: