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#1 Old 03-18-2006, 11:55 AM
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I thought it would be a good idea to start up a thread about volunteering, specifically volunteering to help the environment.



Last week I helped to clear blackthorn and hawthorn from a nature reserve that is a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and this week I've been helping to make nestboxes for woodland birds.



Questions for you to get the ball rolling:



Have you been involved in any voluntary work? What did you do? How did you feel after doing it?



What do you think about volunteering - is it work that the council / government should be paying for, or is it something we should all be involved in?



Is volunteering good for the environment or is it just a bunch of busy-bodies that will never be able to make a real and positive impact on the environment?



Let me know what you think. This thread is intended as a free-for-all as long as it's somewhat related to volunteering...
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#2 Old 03-18-2006, 12:08 PM
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Well, I volunteered at a nursing home so I guess I can't play!
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#3 Old 03-18-2006, 12:51 PM
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I volunteered for clean water action for some time but that was in the early 90's. I do work for KAB (keep america beautiful) which mainly consists of clean ups. I've put together my own clean ups lol, mostly by dragging friends out with me. It really irks me that people litter. I also volunteer for humans but that's not enviro stuff.



eta: to answer your other questions



Quote:
How did you feel after doing it?

hmm, I don't know. Good i guess.



Quote:
What do you think about volunteering - is it work that the council / government should be paying for, or is it something we should all be involved in?

I don't think people necessarily should get paid. It depends on what you're doing and the time involved. I don't think I should get paid for what I do now. Yes, everyone should be involved. I think it's good for the soul.



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Is volunteering good for the environment or is it just a bunch of busy-bodies that will never be able to make a real and positive impact on the environment?

Of course it's good for the environment.
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#4 Old 03-18-2006, 01:30 PM
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I volunteered last summer at a non-profit organic farm called "Garden Harvest" (www.gardenharvest.org). The primary purpose of Garden Harvest is to grow food to donate to local soup kitchens and homeless shelters. Essentially, while feeding the poor, the organization also works to promote sustainable farming. I felt that volunteering there was an incredibly rewarding experience, and I would urge other members of my community to join. And, yes, I did feel that I was making a positive difference.
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#5 Old 03-18-2006, 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by karenlovessnow View Post

Well, I volunteered at a nursing home so I guess I can't play!



No, sod that! Tell us about it. There's no point in me being exclusive about it!
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#6 Old 03-18-2006, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by gaya View Post


I don't think people necessarily should get paid. It depends on what you're doing and the time involved. I don't think I should get paid for what I do now. Yes, everyone should be involved. I think it's good for the soul.



What I was getting at is - the work that volunteers do - is that actually work that the government should be paying people to do e.g. should litter picking be done by employees of the government, not volunteers.



p.s. I'm opening this up to people who volunteer to help other people - after all, people are part of the environment too!
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#7 Old 03-18-2006, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by caldini View Post

No, sod that! Tell us about it. There's no point in me being exclusive about it!



You are very nice! But that was my weak attempt at being silly. I am a self proclaimed big fat baby, whiner, etc. I love drama, so most of the time I am fooling around. So, since you offered, you can't take it back! I used to go to the Nursing Home at lunchtime and help feed the patients who couldn't feed themselves due to severe Alzheimer's. I loved it. It was very rewarding.
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#8 Old 03-18-2006, 04:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caldini View Post

What I was getting at is - the work that volunteers do - is that actually work that the government should be paying people to do e.g. should litter picking be done by employees of the government, not volunteers.



p.s. I'm opening this up to people who volunteer to help other people - after all, people are part of the environment too!





I don't think the government should pay people to do the types of things people volunteer for, like picking up litter, ect. To me, that's the best thing about it, that you DON'T need/want money for it, that you do it because you want to or believe that it's right. The more people do things just to do them, the better the world is for it.
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#9 Old 03-18-2006, 08:51 PM
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I volunteered at a horse rescue. It was very rewarding. I knew what I was doing was making a difference.



The fate of disposed of horses is far worse, IMO, than the fate of disposed cats and dogs. If a cat or a dog ends up in a shelter, at least they get the option of humane euthanasia, but horses... gah. They end up at slaughter.



I also WORK at an animals shelter but the pay is so poor I practically volunteer. I work daily with volunteers and they make an enormous difference in the lives of the animals.



I think that governments or other agencies should set up some sort of infrastructure, especially with enviro cleanup type stuff, and then use volunteers under that. Does that make sense? I think sometimes volunteer-only organizations can be somewhat scatterbrained (everyone is doing in their spare time) but if there is a paid skeleton, then the "meat" can be caring, devoted volunteers and I think that would make a huge difference.
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#10 Old 03-18-2006, 10:28 PM
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I volunteered for years at the Seattle Symphony. Not environmental, but I love music and I felt great being part of an organization that let people experience classical music. Especially people who normally wouldn't be able to, like poor school districts who were able to send their children. Obviously volunteering allowed the symphony to keep costs down and reach out to more people, which is why I did more good than if I were in a paid position.



I also plan on volunteering for Habitat for Humanity this year.
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#11 Old 03-18-2006, 10:51 PM
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I've volunteered for the coastal cleanup once. Mostly I do volunteer work with animal rescues and groups that help people. I love volunteer work. I wish I could do it for a living.

‎"One meal, soon forgotten, in exchange for a whole life." Author Unknown
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#12 Old 03-18-2006, 11:15 PM
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If you volunteer to do a task that might otherwise require a government employee, you free up tax dollars--your money--to do other useful work. It might end up in some politician's pocket, but it could be worth a shot.

Q: How many poets does it take to change a light bulb? A: 1001...one to change the bulb, 1000 to say it's already been done.
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#13 Old 03-19-2006, 06:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caldini View Post

What I was getting at is - the work that volunteers do - is that actually work that the government should be paying people to do e.g. should litter picking be done by employees of the government, not volunteers.



p.s. I'm opening this up to people who volunteer to help other people - after all, people are part of the environment too!





That's a bizarre idea to me, that the government (us) should pay people to do things we can do for free for our own communities...
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#14 Old 03-19-2006, 07:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Ludi View Post

That's a bizarre idea to me, that the government (us) should pay people to do things we can do for free for our own communities...



A related question - should people have to pay to volunteer? I've been looking into a lot of overseas volunteering options, and almost all of them have a pretty high fee associated with them. I'm thinking of doing a reef conservation project in Thailand, but with the plane ticket it'll cost me about $4,000. It looks like a great program, but I can't shake the suspicion that it's just a way to put the squeeze on some environmetally-minded people. What do y'all think?



http://www.projects-abroad.org/proje...n/thailand.php



~Hannah
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#15 Old 03-19-2006, 10:32 AM
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Volunteer efforts that require a lot of travel and expenses might require the volunteer to pay them. The program doesn't benefit from you buying a plane ticket, except in the sense that now they don't have to pay for the ticket. I'd maybe see if I could contact former volunteers who worked with the organization and see what they thought of the experience.
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#16 Old 03-19-2006, 01:45 PM
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Litter pickup could be saved for people who have to do community service, like my darling son when he got a speeding ticket!
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#17 Old 03-19-2006, 03:37 PM
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We don't seem to have enough criminals in our neck of the woods - groups "adopt" stretches of our country roads to clean up periodically, and people clean up their own roads also, along the fronts of their land...community service clean up seems limited to the interstate highway.
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#18 Old 03-20-2006, 09:06 AM
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I volunteer with a house rabbit rescue. It is fun. I write press releases and articles. I also clean cages; not as fun, but at least I get to play with the bunnies!
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#19 Old 03-20-2006, 12:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caldini View Post

What I was getting at is - the work that volunteers do - is that actually work that the government should be paying people to do e.g. should litter picking be done by employees of the government, not volunteers.



p.s. I'm opening this up to people who volunteer to help other people - after all, people are part of the environment too!



I drive for Meals on Wheels as a volunteer one day a week. It's wonderful to do, some of the older people never see anyone except me and their visiting nurse. Being that I have a little more time I am able to talk to them for at least a few minutes.



Also, it's not recognized/organized volunteer work, but I take bags with me and collect garbage around my neighborhood while walking my dog. When I plan to go up by the wooded area I sometimes take my kids wagon with me. I separate the garbage into trash and recyclables and dispose of it properly. That's sort of environmental.

Mary
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#20 Old 03-20-2006, 06:11 PM
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Also, it's not recognized/organized volunteer work, but I take bags with me and collect garbage around my neighborhood while walking my dog. When I plan to go up by the wooded area I sometimes take my kids wagon with me. I separate the garbage into trash and recyclables and dispose of it properly. That's sort of environmental.

Mary



Excellent!
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#21 Old 03-20-2006, 07:59 PM
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I work for a non-profit called TeamWorks International (teamworksinternational.org). I'm actually leaving for India in August 2006 for a year. Although I will be doing vocational training and micro-finance with Indian women, we are also working with Green Empowerment (http://www.greenempowerment.org/) to bring more sustainable and healthy forms of living to the people in the Indian slums. As an avid cyclist, I'm just starting to get into the more technical side of environmentalism, but so far, I find it fascinating.
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#22 Old 04-01-2006, 07:57 AM
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hannah, unless they are very highly skilled (ie. no local people can do the job) and they are planning on living overseas for over a year, I absolutely believe that international volunteers should have to cover their own flights as well as room and board. Volunteering is, by definition, working for free. When I work for pay, a big chunk of my money goes toward shelter and food. So, in my opinion, working for room and board is almost the same as a paying job.



I don't even have much of a problem with overseas projects asking for a small donation. If you honestly believe in what you're supporting, then you'll probably find that you want to support them financially. The truth is that for many of these organizations, money can go much farther than volunteer hours. I DO have a problem with organizations that charge thousands of dollars for a two-week program (not including airfare). In my experience, these projects are usually american- or british-based, and I suspect that much money goes toward overhead.



It is my opinion that any overseas volunteer stint under six months benefits the volunteer far more than it does the program. I think it's a great thing and it can only be positive for everyone in the long term, but I also don't think that cash-strapped projects in third world countries should be supporting international volunteers.



This is coming from someone who has volunteered overseas twice.



Cheers,

R
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#23 Old 04-01-2006, 08:04 AM
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I haven't done any volunteer work at all since becoming a teacher. I find that all of my waking hours are consumed by my job and I simply don't have time to volunteer anywhere. Right now, I'm trying to make a difference by becoming vegetarian. Once I move in July, I would also like to get my dog certified as a therapy dog and take him to nursing homes.



In the Summer, I often volunteer for cultural events and festivals. These are all short-term and lots of fun.



In the past, I've volunteered mainly in people-related positions. I've mostly worked with children and youth (tutoring, teaching, leading activities). I think it's very rewarding...but I can't imagine volunteering with children at this point in my life, when I spend 7 hours per day with 7 year olds. I've also volunteered overseas twice, once with a health-care org in Brazil for a month and once at a children's home in South Africa for six months. Once I get more settled and have a bit more time on my hands, I would like to do some volunteer work in a museum or a conservation organization.
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#24 Old 04-01-2006, 10:30 AM
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I volunteered last summer at my local animal shelter, I loved spending time with the cats and dogs, but I felt so bad when I had to put them back in their enclosures!
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#25 Old 04-01-2006, 12:08 PM
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Im the volunteer coordinator with a local Animal Rescue. I think volunteering is extremely important and I wish I could volunteer with more groups. There is so much you can do even for just one group. For instance we need volunteers to wash the cats laundry. We have about 100 volunteers on my active volunteer list and I would say at least half dont do anything. Its one of my projects to go down the list and call all those who I dont recognize and take them off the list. But out of those 50 volunteers who really dont do anything I cant understand why at least a small number of them cannot help with the laundry! I mean something like that is so easy and you can do it right in your home! But I have the hardest time trying to get people to do it!



I really wish more people would be actively involved in at least something. I tell people to find something their interested in and then get involved in a group that supports that issue.



I mean one weekend a month or even one DAY a month can accomplish so much, I just dont see why more people dont volunteer. If you cant spare one day a month to help out then I find that pretty sad.



Anywho thats my 2C
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#26 Old 04-05-2006, 08:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Random View Post

hannah, unless they are very highly skilled (ie. no local people can do the job) and they are planning on living overseas for over a year, I absolutely believe that international volunteers should have to cover their own flights as well as room and board. Volunteering is, by definition, working for free. When I work for pay, a big chunk of my money goes toward shelter and food. So, in my opinion, working for room and board is almost the same as a paying job.



I don't even have much of a problem with overseas projects asking for a small donation. If you honestly believe in what you're supporting, then you'll probably find that you want to support them financially. The truth is that for many of these organizations, money can go much farther than volunteer hours. I DO have a problem with organizations that charge thousands of dollars for a two-week program (not including airfare). In my experience, these projects are usually american- or british-based, and I suspect that much money goes toward overhead.



It is my opinion that any overseas volunteer stint under six months benefits the volunteer far more than it does the program. I think it's a great thing and it can only be positive for everyone in the long term, but I also don't think that cash-strapped projects in third world countries should be supporting international volunteers.



This is coming from someone who has volunteered overseas twice.



Cheers,

R



Random -



I totally agree with what you've said - I have no problem with donating to a good cause, and paying for my own airfare - the prices just seemed a bit exorbitant to me. And as to the long-term thing, oh, how I wish I could do that! I'm just finishing up my undergrad degree, and I've already committed to graduate school for the next five + years (and in the discipline I'm in that means I'll be in school year round, working 60-70 hours a week) so I really wanted to do something useful this summer. And I'd also like to not go into too much debt before I become a starving grad student. Sorry for the rant - I've been looking everywhere, and I can't really seem to find anything.



Anyone have any suggestions of a good cause that could use some helpful hands over the summer? And is somewhat flexible (I'll have to spend a week or two at my new school looking for apartments)? And doesn't cost too much? Heh, rather a long list, not much of a surprise I can't find anything.



Again - sorry for being so long-winded. Any advice will be much appreciated.



~Hannah
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#27 Old 04-05-2006, 08:29 PM
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And sorry for the double post - USFveggie, that sounds great - I'll definitely look into my local animal shelter! You don't think they'll mind that I'll only be at home for like 2 months?
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#28 Old 04-05-2006, 08:57 PM
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I'm practically a "professional volunteer". I want to work in animal welfare/conservation, so I volunteer on projects related to that to get experience. In that sense, they're doing me more of a favour, because it's an excellent way for me to build up my experience without having to do any formal study. I have spent alot of time on an ape conservation project in Thailand, and will be going to Cambodia and China soon to spend 5 months working on bear conservation/welfare projects. I love it, because it enables me to travel and see the world, while doing something that is constructive to my career choice - and more importantly, beneficial to the animals...
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#29 Old 04-06-2006, 09:51 AM
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Wow, there are some really nice volunteering stories here!



I am looking to volunteer at AnimalFriends this summer - Pittsburgh's only no-kill shelter. I used to visit shelters every once in awhile, and I'd finally like to start helping out now that I have the extra time. I'm so excited to start!!



As far as the question of whether government should subsidize volunteering - I personally think it is up to individuals to finance their own volunteering activities, trips, campaigns, etc... I think that the private sector is the best one to deal with volunteering, so that tax dollars aren't allocated to things they shouldn't be (according to our Constitution).
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