Guest Blog Post by: Mary Palin, HandsOn Twin Cities Project Coordinator
I graduated from Winona State University in May 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations. For three of my four years of undergraduate experience at WSU, I worked in Housing & Residence Life as both a resident assistant and assistant hall director. Res life employees are an interesting bunch; creative, excited, optimistic, hard-working and kind. I learned many skills in residence life; conflict resolution, emergency preparedness, cheerleading, counseling, advertising, teaching, and arts & crafts to name a few.
Looking back after a year outside of the res life world (that is so different from my world now); I’ve had a hard time finding ways to translate my res life skills into my current life. While at school working in residence life, I was creating awareness and making a difference in the everyday lives of students by making bulletin boards with information about ‘National Ice Cream Month’ or ‘Autism Awareness’. Currently, I work at the front desk of a medical clinic and although I “relate to the public” every day, I’m not using the fun skills I’ve acquired from my res life days.
Then I discovered HandsOn Twin Cities. Volunteering was one of my biggest passions while in high school and something I unfortunately didn’t have time to do a lot of while in college. Now being back in the Twin Cities working full-time with no extracurricular activities, I’ve been searching for something to do. I was aware of HandsOn Twin Cities from their annual Volunteer Expo at the Mall of America. After volunteering at the expo last February, I browsed through the HandsOn website and found a link to the Impact Now programs. I signed up for “Day at the Museum” a volunteer opportunity that occurs on Saturday’s at the Minneapolis Children’s Museum. My favorite aspect about the Impact Now program is that it can be a one-time commitment; allowing you to volunteer for a day and then decide if this is something you want to continue signing up for.
I went to the museum that Saturday, enjoyed my experience but wasn’t sure if the museum was a perfect fit for me. I returned to the HandsOn website to find a new opportunity and ended up founding information about becoming a Project Coordinator. I’ve led volunteer activities, programs, and projects since I was in high school, so this felt like the right fit for me.
With all of the diverse Impact Now programs offered, it took me almost a month for one to open up that I knew would be ideal for me- “Decorating Day”. Once a month, I’d bring a few volunteers to decorate bulletin boards at a skilled nursing facility in Minneapolis. It was the perfect program for me after my 3 years of making bulletin boards almost every month.
The main point to my life story here is that with the Impact Now program, the perfect project is out there waiting for you and your special skills or interests. I wasn’t sure where I would fit in outside of a residence life setting with my strange ability to decorate bulletin boards but here I am, leading a project that does exactly that.
To find the perfect volunteer opportunity for you- visit our regularly updated