Hello Passionate People of the Fox Cities and Beyond,
Let’s talk about volunteering. It might be a helpful tool on your resume for getting into college or showing a prospective employer how altruistic you are. For others, it could already be apart of their schedules. However much or little you volunteer, it’s time to look at it in a new way. Volunteering as a date could be a chance to create a rewarding experience for people directly or indirectly involved.There are many benefits to volunteer dates. They can open up the door to learning new things about the person you’re with – their talents, passions, causes they care most about and how well they work with others. Opportunities exist to fit nearly every schedule no matter if you’re a regular or a one-time volunteer. Lastly, there’s such a variety of jobs from which to choose. From building a house to socializing with cats, there are plenty of date ideas to go around. Here are four places in the Fox Cities community that could be a setting for a volunteer date!
Volunteer Fox Cities
If you’re feeling stuck about where you want to volunteer, Volunteer Fox Cities is the place to go. They serve about 100 different local non-profits and can steer you in the right direction. “A big initiative for us is to make sure we’re being the hub or essentially that middle person that takes the people who want to volunteer and helps them find an opportunity,” says Kristin Cates, director of marketing and events.
Volunteer Fox Cities has an internal application process that requires you to fill out a form and undergo an in-person interview at their Appleton office to discuss your likes, dislikes and passions to help connect you to the best opportunity.
A new initiative that Volunteer Fox Cities offers to the community is the Give Back Bus. The Give Back Bus takes volunteers out to a activity, but they don’t know where or what it’s going to be. You sign up and pay a $15 fee per person for snacks and t-shirt. You spend three hours volunteering and that’s it. The next one will be on Saturday, October 27, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. This would make a great date, because you know the time frame, it’s a nice atmosphere to get to know someone in especially if it’s the first date and there’s the element of surprise that you get to experience together. And afterwards, you can spend even more time together by going out to lunch and talking about the activity. (This would also be a great way to spend Make a Difference Day which is the same day!)
Another date idea is to attend VolunteerFEST, an event that Volunteer Fox Cities organizes, which is a free community volunteer fair with over 50 different nonprofits in one room. Attendees will be able to talk with the organizations, see what they’re about and simply get to know about things and people in your community you didn’t know about before. This event will happen on Giving Tuesday, this year on November 27 from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Waverly Beach in Menasha.
VolunteerFEST would be an awesome opportunity to get to know your date. Each of you can pick your top three organizations, discuss your choices over dinner and for the next date, go volunteer at the top organization one of you chose! An event that sparks discussion AND can lead to another date? Now that is an event to go to.
For more information, go to volunteerfoxcities.org.
Habitat for Humanity Fox Cities
Habitat for Humanity offers volunteer opportunities not only in construction, but year round positions on driving crews and in customer service at their ReStores. However you choose to volunteer, there are a lot of new skills to learn.
“Just have fun with it,” says Jodi Isom, volunteer services manager. “Be willing to learn from great teachers and get to know the person you’re helping as well as the other people in the crews.”
Volunteering at Habitat for Humanity also offers a great opportunity to work in groups with people you may or may not know. It’s an alternative to meeting people at a bar, which has worked for plenty of people in Wisconsin for many years, yes. But this way, it’s free, at flexible hours during the day, and the chances of feeling sick the next day are very low. One group is The Senior Crew filled with members who are mostly retired, some being teachers or students on vacations and people in between careers. They volunteer on a regular basis during the week or weekends.
Past Volunteer Manager Diane Ruhland actually met her husband at one of the Habitat ReStores. Ruhland and her husband have since moved away from the Fox Cities, but they still volunteer together. “Volunteering is something you bring with you wherever you might go,” Ruhland says.
The application process to volunteer is done online at foxcitieshabitat.org where you can see all the volunteer opportunities on one page and sign up for one you would like to do. It is required that you have to sign up for a job at least two weeks in advance.
“You never know what you’ll find at the Habitat ReStore. I found a husband,” Ruhland says.
For more information, go to foxcitieshabitat.org.
The Salvation Army is probably best known for their bell ringing during the holiday season, which starts November 9 and goes until Christmas Eve. A bell ringing date would be great because it has a flexible with ringing hours from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Afterwards, whether it’s in the morning or at night, you can grab a hot drink from your favorite cafe! There is no application process for bell ringing.
There are plenty of other Salvation Army volunteer options that happen year round as well. These entail an application to be filled out at the Salvation Army office and will take one to two weeks to be approved. Some opportunities, like working with children as classroom assistants at the daycare center in Menasha, require a background check which take longer to get approval.
The Salvation Army also just started a new meal program. Their kitchen is open every day and serve a meal either at 11:30 a.m. or noon. Volunteers come help prepare the meals and will work for one to two hours. In August they served over 3,000 meals. Volunteering in the kitchen would be conducive for people who might want to have a date during their lunch break.
Alli Oravec, Salvation Army volunteer coordinator, says, “You get to meet people from many different walks of life. Just talking to them and hearing their stories can be incredible.”
For more information, go to safoxcities.org.
Fox Valley Humane Association
Working with animals at the Fox Valley Humane Association can prove to be an adventurous job as you can work with animals you haven’t been used to before. While they have cats and dogs, they also have an assortment of critters to work with such as mice, rats, guinea pigs, bunnies and birds. You’ll be able to learn not only different things about the animals, but also get insider knowledge of the inner workings of the Humane Association.
“We have about 300 animals [in the shelter] at a time and about 40 staff members,” says Volunteer Coordinator Kat Pfeifer. “We couldn’t do it without our volunteers.”
You can also learn about your date as well – if they have a favorite animal or how they act towards animals. One event the Fox Valley Humane Association holds is the Meows and Mutts Monster Mash on October 27, which would make for a fun date. People from the community are invited to bring their dogs to participate in doggy trick-or-treating, costume parade and a clean your (peanut butter) plate contest with the winner getting a big prize. You can work with the animals and see entertainment. I mean, who can say that they both watched and helped create a peanut butter plate contest on a date? A shorter application process for this event is needed.
People who are planning to volunteer regularly fill out a one page application and also an insurance waiver because of working with the animals. Unless the shelter is hectic, the normal time for approval is two to three days. Volunteer options include greeting at the front desk, dishes and laundry, dog walking, cat socialization and general cleaning jobs for the animals and the shelter.
For more information, go to foxvalleypets.org.
While volunteering is about helping to better a community, you also help yourself along the way. Appreciation can go both ways from the workers to the community and vice versa as volunteering helps make the Fox Cities area a great place to be. You can also gain some of the most unforgettable memories which stem from going outside of your comfort zone whether that’s meeting new people, learning a new skill or even going on a date.
Do you have a favorite place to volunteer?
Until next time,
Sarah – Hopeless Romantic of the Fox Cities