So you are ready to help someone, but who?
1) Focus on one area of your life that means a lot to you. Do you love working with children or adults? Do you have a weakness for cooking or landscaping? Are you the ultimate organizer? Choose one area or field you are passionate about, make it your cause, and stick to it.
2) Determine if you would rather work on your own or join a group effort. If you love working with others or would like to join an established group, look for an organization (official or not) that relates to your chosen cause. Attend a meeting, talk to members, try out an event, and see how you might fit into the group's goals. If you work better on your own or in small groups, brainstorm with like-minded others and search for ideas to get started on your cause by yourself.
3) Decide what you are ready to commit. If you are limited on time, consider your capacity to donate financially or with gifts. Available in person? Donate your time at events, fundraising, planning, or missions. Maybe you have skills or services to share. Connect and network with others working on your cause through friends, colleagues, social media, or the internet. Ask what needs to be done and how your skill set can help the process.
4) Figure out if you are in for the long haul or a short term donation. Are you ready and available to take this cause and run with it? Will you be able to maintain it? A long term commitment will take more time, energy, and work, but will probably be more satisfying and develop your passion for your cause. A short term commitment may be more practical depending on what you are already working on or dealing with in your life. Whichever you choose, know ahead of time how much commitment you can give so you can find the right niche within your cause.
5) Remember, you can not help everyone every day. It is humanly impossible. You can, however, make an impact on someone, and encourage others to do the same. As your passion for a cause cultivates, others will want to know more about it and get involved too.
So here’s my example:
- Gifted education is very important to me. I have a lot of education and training in the field, and I constantly feel a need to be a part of it. I am passionate specifically about underrepresented groups.
- I am very independent and don’t mind working alone, but I also like direction and brainstorming partners. So I might connect with the local, state, and even national organizations for gifted education. I can attend conventions and events, and reach out to other people involved in these organizations.
- I have some free time during the week to work on my cause and help with various tasks and committees. I might also find a way to use my expertise to enhance a specific project. Financially, I’m kind of tight right now but I will consider giving something later on.
- I am interested in a long term commitment because I heard about this committee where I can provide input on certain initiatives I feel are important. We only meet once a month so that’s doable.
I hope these tips help you take those first steps to find a cause you are passionate about. It can be confusing to choose who to help and where to begin. Just start small and build up to where you want to be.
Try modeling this process in your classroom as well. Show your students how to explore and find a cause they can be passionate about in relation to the standards you are teaching, even if it only theoretical. Help them connect to the world and other people by seeing problems and figuring out how they can assist. What a great way for our children to learn that while we don’t have a perfect world, they can make a difference to make it better!