Over the years I have heard many times, there is nothing that I would want to volunteer for when I would tell fellow workers where I was the evening before. I don’t feel passionate about any group was another excuse often mentioned. While this may be true for a very few, most of those making this claim were in fact wrong. When I would talk to time for a bit I nearly always found that they had passions and many of those passions had opportunities for volunteering. Most of my fellow workers simply did not prioritize their passions as worth the effort more than they wanted to have fun chasing ladies or other activities.
The key is you need to see the effort as worth while. For several ideas on why you should volunteer from a medical point of view see the posts I have already written on this subject.
The key here is to not take a list of volunteer groups and wedge yourself into one of them. Find your passion and then find the associated group! Your passion is by far the most important thing you could identify first.
Outdoors oriented folks can choose from a number of groups. Izaak Walton League had in 2006 50,000 members and 300 clubs. How about the Audubon Society, Bass Unlimited or Pheasants Forever, are any of these up your alley? Perhaps the famous Boone and Crockett association fits you more? Pheasants Forever in 2006 had 570 chapter in 29 states. Don’t forget Future Farmers of America (FFA) or youth groups like 4H or Ruritan, which in 2006 had 30,000 members and 1,000 clubs.
For manufacturing members the American Society of Quality (ASQ) is active and has volunteer opportunities.
For history enthusiasts the opportunities abound. Currently the Civil War group, http://www.civilwar.org/aboutus/events/park-day/ is planning a volunteer day for April 6th, 2013. Check with the site for opportunities in your state. This group’s aim is to preserve civil war areas from land development. This is not an easy task and the efforts to preserve our history drive many a passionate volunteer.
The current climate in politics makes is likely most voters are more aware of the NRA than they may have been in the past. But there are several other less populated groups with similar political thoughts, including the Well Armed Woman FB site located here, http://www.facebook.com/TheWellArmedWoman. It is not only the men who believe that the 2nd amendment to the Constitution of the United States has value, many ladies do as well. Many people are stunned when they find this out. Way too many stereotypes abound on this subject.
Perhaps you like chess? There are local chess clubs all over the United States. The US Chess Federation website is http://www.uschess.org. You can locate other players online or locally. In 2006 the US had 1334 chess clubs. Keep in mind that face to face interactions along with passionate volunteering is what we are looking for here.
Other causes include Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) with 600 chapters in 2006, Association for the Advancement of Retired People (AARP) with 35 million members in 2006, Investment clubs, United Investors Association which in 2006 had 100 groups, Clown Clubs, Motorcycle Clubs, National Garden Clubs with 217,233 members and 7,251 clubs in 2006.
The variety of groups should by now strike most readers as wide and varied. If you can feel passionate about it and find a local group then you are well on your way towards better health and better mental well being.
Before you say you can’t find a group, find your passion. This is often the really hard spot. What moves you?
Sports teams have many groups. Even if you move most areas have sports hang outs for fans. I have been a Green Bay Packer fan ever since watching the first two Super Bowls with my dad. Since Green Bay won, and my home state of Iowa has no professional sports team of any kind in the state, I adopted the Packers. Through ups and downs I tried to follow them. Today you can find local bars and groups of Packer Fans nearly anywhere you travel in the US and even some places abroad. This is true of other sports teams as well. While the volunteer opportunities are limited, if you are passionate then the possibilities are likely to come up.
My father was a private pilot in Central Iowa years ago. He joined and eventually served as the president of the Midwest Tri-Pacer Association. He planned meeting sites for the group to fly into and eat at different locations, making arrangements for the reception and meetings. He loved the group and the work of volunteering for a year seemed to him no problem. Sometimes as kids we went along too. Many private pilots are very passionate about their type of plane and their yearly meetings if they attend. One large meeting for private pilots is in Oshkosh, Wisconsin every year. They require a large number of volunteers for the week long event.
My point is that groups of all kinds abound. I used to do Western Square Dancing in Des Moines, Iowa. They always needed volunteers to coordinate the functions. Don’t forget magic clubs, Metal Detector clubs, Archaeological Clubs, Science Clubs, Dog Clubs, Cat Clubs, Car Clubs, clubs that help veterans such as the USO, retired US Navy ships clubs (particularly if they were made into diving reefs like my first ship, the USS Speigle Grove LSD-32), ships reunions, Army unit reunions, Daughters of the American Revolution which had 2,975 chapters in 2006, and many more.
Let’s get back to passionate. Did a close relative have a encounter with a terminal disease? That list and the associated groups are vast. My first wife died from Lupus, so the Lupus Foundation of America was a natural place for me to volunteer for a few years. Cancer groups are prolific. Many other groups help those with a special disease. Is your passion in this area?
Do your passions run towards religious groups. The amount of people associated with religious volunteer groups in the United States is very large. The Roman Catholic Church (RCC) group, Knights of Columbus, with 1.6 million members in 2006 is one of the better known of these volunteer groups. Started by Father Michael McGiveny in New Haven Connecticut in 1882, it was a reaction to the anti-Catholic sentiment in the United States as well as the success of the Freemasons, functioning as a place for Catholics to assemble just like their counterparts in Freemasonry.
As we will see, many civic and fraternal groups were either formed by Masons or highly influenced by the fraternity. Imitation is regarded as the most sincere form of flattery. This makes the Freemasons, the largest and oldest fraternal organization in the world, pretty respected if all of the groups it influenced can be a guide.
The Knights of Columbus often hold parades for St. Patrick’s Day. In many locations they invite the local Shriners to bring their unique subgroups along to increase the size and variety of the parade. Shriners, all members being Freemasons before being admitted to the Shrine if they petition for membership, are very willing to share a parade in most cases. I have as a Shriner participated in such a gathering when I was in Va. Beach, Va. The fun and social connections between many who often don’t gather socially is something to see. I have very fond memories of these parades and the socializing after wards.
To be clear in this instance, Knights of Columbus (KOC) members are required to be Roman Catholic Church (RCC) members in good standing. So Greek Orthodox Church members, also Catholic but not Roman would usually not qualify. Freemasons have no issue with Roman Catholics joining in any way since they believe in God, but not all Freemasons can join the KOC if they are Jewish, Deist, or Protestant in their religious leanings.
Groups to be passionate about would seem abundant. Book clubs, computer clubs, political groups, ethnic associations of all kinds, weight losing clubs, dart groups, pool playing groups, card playing groups such as Bridge clubs, adult soft ball groups, the list seems endless.
Please don’t take away from my suggestions that only Jews and Christians can be Freemasons. Freemasonry is a world wide group with lodges and members in most countries of the world. A famous British writer, Rudyard Kipling wrote many books which eventually became classics and some were turned into movies, such as The Man Who Would Be King. He wrote in his biography how he was involved with men of several religions in his Masonic travels.
From his autobiography published posthumously in 1937, Something of Myself–
“In ’85 I was made a Freemason by dispensation (Lodge Hope and Perseverance 782 E.C.), being under age, because the Lodge hoped for a good Secretary. They did not get him, but I helped, and got Father to advise in decorating the bare walls of the Masonic Hall with hangings after the prescription of Solomon’s Temple. Here I met Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, members of the Arya and Brahmo Samaj, and a Jew tyler, who was priest and butcher to his little community in the city. So yet another world opened to me which I needed.”
Kipling’s own entry suggests that at this time British military officers in India were open and even well associated with men from various religious backgrounds. Since Freemasonry started in England, it seems safe to say that this fraternity appeals to good men of various religious values. The ideal group to bring men together rather than keep them apart. Very few groups do this particular social aspect as well as the Masons. You will find passion runs deep in many Freemasons!
Once you figure out a passionate issue you would be willing to support, the chances that you can align with some group are pretty good. In future posts I will delve into this matter in greater detail.