Why should I volunteer?
So this is a little of the usual topic of my blog. But, I am compelled to write this because of a meeting a was in this week. We were trying to find ways to encourage the nomination of nurses that we work with for the Great 100 in Nursing Excellence Award. Once of the items that the award focuses on, in addition to leadership and participation in the workplace, is Volunteerism and activism outside of the workplace. They encourage nurses to be active in the community and give of their time and talents to help their community. Along with that discussion, came the question, "Well, where do we find volunteer opportunities?' I thought it would be a great post to just help identify ways to volunteer and give back to the community.
This post isn't just for nurses! Even though a lot of my references may come from nursing! (Helloooo,,,,,that is what I am and what I do, lol). It is for anyone wondering where to start volunteering. Many of us feel a need to help others, or share our talents and and blessings with others to better our community. It doesn't have to cost you anything but time and effort! It is a great feeling to know that you in someway made a difference in someone's life. A smile, a hug, a helping hand, or a word of encouragement can go along way! Knowing that you showed up to help can be a bright spot in someone's day!
Where Should I volunteer?
You may be wondering, "Where can I volunteer?" Think of your interests. Love sports? Volunteer with the local little league as a coach. Love photography? Volunteer at the local senior center teaching a basic digital photography class. Love landscaping? Volunteer with your church to reach out to disabled and elderly to help do their lawns. It doesn't matter what you like doing. cultivate a way to share it!
First places to start may seem a little obvious. Hospitals, Churches, Senior Centers, Homeless shelters, and soup kitchens. Hospitals use volunteers ALL THE TIME! They sit at information desks, take magazines around to patients, escort visitors to the right floors, run errands on units and all kinds of things. If you like a medical environment, this may be the place for you! Most hospitals have a volunteer services department that can welcome you in! Same goes for senior centers, homeless shelters and soup kitchens. Just call them! They will more than likely jump at the chance to put you to work!
I personally found a great opportunity at the Enrichment Center, in Downtown Winston Salem, it is a school for mentally challenged adults. They teach them life skills, health classes, art, history, photography, music, etc. It is a United Way affiliated organization. It was a fabulous opportunity. In the interest of full disclosure, I had to do it for a school project while completing my BS degree. But it was a fabulous experience and I plan to continue!
You can volunteer in the school systems. Ask about opportunities with your local Parks and Recreation, Adult Day care centers, Assisted Living Facilities would love to have help playing games, reading to residents, etc. Is environmental kinds of things more your cup o' tea? Adopt a road (that may just be a NC program, I don't know), Volunteer with group planting trees. Find a group cleaning streams. Do you have an "I heart Dogs" bumper sticker? The local animal shelter would probably love you to help. If they can't use you, You could most definitely plan a fundraiser to help them purchase papertowels, dog-food, treats, and vaccinations!
I found a Non-profit organization in NC, (there are probably similar ones in your area) called Pretty in Pink Foundation. They help uninsured and under-insured breast cancer patients in NC with financial assistance. I planned a vendor fair and shopping event at the park, with vendor fees and donations, as well as raffle money going to the organization. We raised almost 700.00! Now that was a several month process and took A LOT of hours to plan, so I am not advising you to jump feet first into that, but there are other ways to help! Most non profits have websites and will have an area where the list help that they need. Find something that you can do and go for it!
How to volunteer. Steps to figuring out how to volunteer
Step one. Call them! Check their website! Tell them you want to help them. Chances are, they are waiting on your call or waiting for you to sign up online!
Step two. Set aside time. One hour, two hours, Whatever you have!
Step there. Have fun! You will meet so many new people and experience different things! Enjoy it!
Step four. Step outside of the box. I had never really worked with mentally challenged adults before. It really opened up a whole new world to me. I was even able to use the experience on the job. Because I had experience, I was able to communicate with and help a mentally challenged patient who was scared and unsure of the environment he was in. My coworkers even noticed how I was able to relate to him and complemented me and the care I was able to give him. I wouldn't have been able to do that well, had I not stepped outside my little box and volunteered!
My point is, there IS opportunity to volunteer if you want to. It isn't hard to find, and you can create your own opportunities! Give of yourself and you will be amazed how much you get in return!
Links to sign up to volunteer in Winston Salem area
Where do you volunteer? What ideas do you have for finding volunteer opportunities? Let me know in the comments!
Rent vs buy. Series post 2
CONSUMER REVIEW OF ATSRENTALS.COM
My previous post in this series, Rent vs Buy: Options for trying new lenses, explained that I am exploring the option of renting lenses to try them out before I invest mucho money in new lenses. I am comparing three different companies, by renting the same to lenses from them. One company per month. Now I warn you, the upcoming post will sound like I was paid to write it. I promise you, I was not compensated in any way. I am going to give you an honest appraisal of my experiences. For testing purposes I am renting a 50mm f/1.4 AF-S and a 12-24mm f/4. Both for Nikon cameras. I may have to get different brands depending on the availability from each company.
Woohoo! I got home today, and exactly what was at my front door? Two lenses for me to play with from ATSRENTALS. And let me tell you, so far, I am loving ATS! The process was super easy to order, they had the lenses I wanted to try, and it was very reasonably priced. After I placed my order, it was only a few minutes before I got an email to verify my order. Open email, click link. Order verified. Next email came the next day that items had shipped.
Then, bless their hearts, they emailed me to tell me I would be getting a partial refund of my shipping costs! Whoa, what? Really? Yep, a refund. They were able to ship it to me cheaper than they had quoted because they had a lens returned early or something like that. So I'm getting money back!
So here are the things that I like about ATS so far. #1 Their prices were the same or cheaper as other companies. #2 Damage insurance was already included in the price. #3 They had the lenses I wanted. #4 They obviously have some kick-butt customer services peeps! #5 They sent me jelly beans! Now, I LOVE jelly beans, and these are even Jelly Belly jelly beans. MY favorite! #6 AND, to top it off? They sent packing tape for me to use to ship the lenses back! Oh my! Now I am one of those silly people that loves the post office, but they have saved me a trip out to get more packing tape, cause I ran out just this morning!
So far, ATS is batting 1000, baby! They may just be the J.J. Watt of the lens rental business! Yep, I had to throw J.J. in here somewhere. But, seriously, so far they've done everything right and then thrown in some unexpected special treats, too!
I did notice that there was a company that had a rewards program that applied points from rentals towards another rental, so this might be one thing ATS could do in the future, but with the service I have received at this point, it certainly isn't going to prevent me from using ATS in the future.
Now seems like a super time to let you know I have NO affiliation with ATS. They have not paid me for my review, and this review was completely unsolicited.
ANOTHER fab thing about ATS? They DON'T CHARGE FOR WEEKENDS!!!! Whoa! What? You mean I can get a lens delivered on Friday, use it Saturday and Sunday, ship it back on Monday and ONLY PAY FOR ONE DAY??? Yep, that is exactly what I mean!
So for these two lenses that were delivered on 11/5 and I will ship back on 11/10, I only paid $51.00 plus tax. I paid 49.00 shipping, but hey, they are refunding 28.82 of my shipping charges!
Pricing was the same as one of the other companies that I looked at, less than another, for theses two lenses. In addition, damage insurance did not cost extra. It was already included in the price. The other companies I have looked at so far charge additional for insurance that is required.
Rent vs buy. Series post 1
So let's face it, I'm a financially challenged hobbyist photographer. Striving for more, yes, but at this point there's more money going out with this hobby than coming in! And since I didn't come from money, marry into money, or hit the lottery, I have to find a way to try new lenses and equipment without the full retail investment.
I have been very lucky to purchase some excellent equipment, previously loved and broken in, on ebay. However, it's not always feasible price wise, you have to be very careful about what you are getting, and have to research (a lot) to find out what will work with your existing equipment because the listing may not write it out for you.
I have been exploring new lenses for my Nikon D3100. But the lenses I want are just out of my price range right now. Remember the whole, more money going out than coming in? So I had been reading about people renting lenses and I thought.... Well, Jenn, why not check it out? And a new blog series was born! My first blog series actually. I am going to pick three rental companies, rent the same lenses, and relay my experiences with each one. Customer service, price, lens availablilty, discounts/rewards, and shipping. One company per month. Again, more money going out than coming in thing???
I decided to test out a 50mm f1.4 and a 12-24mm f4. I have a 50mm f1.8, but have been reading about the fab bokeh and ultimate focus and clarity you can get with an f1.4. I want to see if the change is noticeable and worth all the hype and extra cash.
I need a good wide angle lense, something that I can potentially shoot large groups with as well as shoot in tight spaces. My friend has a 12-24 and suggested I try it.
November will be ATSRENTALS.com. December will be lensrentals.com, and January will be borrowlenses.com.
I have no affiliation or connection with any of these companies. I found them by doing a google search for "photography lens rental".
What companies have you rented from? Good experience or not?
10 Rules for getting the best pictures on your wedding day. SAVING TIME, MONEY AND STRESS DURING YOUR WEDDING DAY PHOTOS.
Every bride wants the best photos of her wedding day. To have and cherish for years. Knowing your portraits are going to turn out great, will let your breathe a huge sigh of relief! I discuss some great ways to avoid stress on your wedding day in my previous post. photographer should be chosen after careful decision. I chose mine, because he was the same guy who had done my mother's wedding, my aunt's wedding, and my cousin's wedding. I didn't even look at other options! Not great on my part, but hey, I wasn't thinking straight sixteen years ago. I was in love and silly, and just wanted to be married. Looking back I would have like to taken a lot of my advice now. Not about choosing a husband, I still like him! Since I can't change my wedding. I thought I would help you.
I'm not knocking the photographer that we had. He's a very talented photographer. I am just advising you to make your decision carefully, weigh your options. Find a photographer that you are comfortable with when it comes to investment, services offered and someone who's style you like.
What tips do you have for getting great pictures on your wedding day? Feel free to share them!
Wife, daughter, aunt, nurse, biker chic, aspiring photographer, pretend gourmet chef. That's me! I'm living the Just Peachy Life. This Blog will now be more dedicated to photography and the art form that speaks to me the most. I am moving the lifestyle and home-life posts to the Living the Just Peachy Life Blog to separate the two! Read more about me and _Living the Just Peachy Life!
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