Why You Should Volunteer In Your New Community:
Today is a “good views” day, so I sit here on the roof deck looking over the amazing vistas of Luquillo. From our mountain retreat, I see the blue waters of 12 miles of beaches (yes, you read that correctly, Luquillo has 12 miles of coast line), the pueblo (town) of Luquillo and its high-rise condos, and the amazing greenery of the foothills of the Luquillo mountains. This simply is a million-dollar view, there is no other way to describe it.
I feel so blessed and so very, very fortunate to have the opportunity to live this life. I am living my dream and I’m totally aware that I should count myself lucky. As I sit here, I, again, feel the urge to give back; give back to this amazing new community I live in – the town, the people, and the environment. This has been an ongoing thought in Tim’s and my minds for the past five months – we truly want to make Luquillo an even better place for everyone.
In our “working for someone else” days, I always felt I didn’t have enough time to do all the things I wanted and volunteering was definitely one of those things that got let go first. Oh, don’t get me wrong, we still helped as much as we could by helping to feeding the hungry or setting up for events for the homeless but never on the scale we wanted to, there simply wasn’t enough time. More often than not, we gave money rather than time. So, now that we have more time we can finally do all the things we were hoping to do for our community.
We already started the process by offering our help and our skills to the municipality of Luquillo and it looks like it’s going to be a good partnership. We are volunteering some of our services to help improve the tourism and consequently the economy in our new town. But that is not all; we have many, many other plans.
I truly believe in volunteerism. I think that as residents of any community it is our responsibility to give back. I have come across too many individuals in my lifetime that sit back and complain – A LOT – but do nothing to make things better.
I vowed, a long time ago, that I will not be that person. And so now, five months into this adventure in our new hometown, I am starting to get involved.
Puerto Rico, in general, lacks any type of organizational structure for volunteers. There are few communities here that utilize and organize volunteers well but, let me tell you, is not due to the lack of a need for volunteers.
Although it’s a little difficult to find information on (at least for the time being), there are many ways to get involved and I am determined to help spread the word.
Here are some ways I am getting involved:
- Beach cleanup – we go out almost daily and help clean our beaches. It’s good for us to get the exercise and it makes our natural resources so much better to enjoy for everyone. There are other North American’s doing the same here and there is even a small group that does daily beach walks and helps keep the beach areas clean.
- El Yunque National Rainforest volunteer program – I just found out about his opportunity and filled out the application. I’m excited to help preserve this priceless natural treasure!
- Endangered Species Preservation volunteering – I am very interested in helping with the leatherback sea turtles. There doesn’t seem to be a local volunteer program, even though this is a prize nesting area; I am hoping to work with the Sierra Club and local organizations to get a volunteer program going.
- Municipality volunteering – both Tim and I have a technology background with lots of years of experience in IT, we have offered our services to our new city and have begun working with the Mayors office to organize technology classes for business owners.
Some ideas to help you volunteer in your local community:
- Local Schools – example: tutoring
- Libraries – example: reading programs
- City\municipality – example: city\area clean up
- Community gardens – example: gardening, education
- Charitable organizations – example: Salvation Army, Red Cross
- Food banks\Homeless shelters – example: serving or making food
- State Parks – example: tour guides
- Hospitals – example: family support
- Animal Shelters – example: dog walkers
- Environmental Organizations – example: flora and fauna counts
- Zoos\botanical gardens – example: petting zoo animal care
- Political Campaigns – example: hand out fliers
- Identify a need and start your a volunteer program – example: recycling program
In short, there is no lack of volunteer opportunities – even if there isn’t a program in place – all you need is willingness and time. I could do at least half of the above list right here in Luquillo and this is a pretty small town.[/ezcol_3quarter] [ezcol_1quarter_end] [/ezcol_1quarter_end]When you move to a new area, you come with your own unique skill set – I encourage you to use it to make your new home a better place to live, not just for you but for the whole community. Besides, it’s a great way to meet people in your new hometown, so it’s a win-win for everyone!