Taking action

June 30, 2008

Those of you who know me personally know that I am not very good at making decisions, particularly when it comes to personal things. Well, one of the things about which I have recently been plagued by indecision is volunteering. I am eager to volunteer somewhere, doing something for other people in my free time rather than only engaging in activities that are purely for my own enjoyment. I have spent hours browsing lists of non-profits and volunteer positions, but I have not been able to settle on something. I feel as I have an abstract ideal in my head of what exactly this volunteer position looks like, and nothing that exists in reality perfectly matches that ideal. When I look at any concrete volunteer opportunity, I am frozen by doubts – what exactly will be required of me? what if I don’t like it? what if it causes me to have a negative view of people instead of a positive one like I am hoping? what if I don’t like working with people? what if this doesn’t have enough people interaction? And so on. And so, I am stuck in a mode of inaction.

However, today I took action. I came across some opportunities posted on craigslist with a local organization called The Emergency Family Assistance Association. They provide “food, financial assistance programs, emergency shelter and transitional housing programs,” as well as work with other local organizations. They had several types of opportunities posted and in my email I expressed interested in two of them: guiding families through the food bank and helping them with their food selection, and interviewing people to assess their needs. I am more interested in the latter, but I thought it might be easier to start with the former, to ease into volunteering.

It does not perfectly match my ideal volunteer position (does anything?), but I chose to act on this opportunity because it involves direct interaction with people in need, which is something I would like to gain experience with. It is not as directly related to peace and non-violence as I would like, but I feel that it is somewhat related: meeting people’s basic needs of food and shelter is critical to creating a peaceful community.

In the end, I can not know exactly what volunteering at EFAA would be like, or what I could gain from the experience, until I try it. With this realization, I broke myself out of my indecision and emailed the volunteer coordinator. Now here’s hoping I receive a positive response and get to pursue this further!