Action Groups @ Home
How enthusiastic are you about the home volunteering concept? Could you organise a group of people to spend some time in your own home or somebody else’s to participate in some of the volunteering activities listed on the website?
Maybe you could advertise it as a pyjama party! No, not that type of pyjama party, but a get together of people volunteering their time dressed just in their pyjamas! Here’s an organisation that could help you to start the ball rolling - Volunteer Meetup Groups.
We have provided the following handouts to make it easy for you to introduce the concept of microvolunteering to new group members.
Forming Your Home Volunteering Group
The formation of a group requires two ingredients: people enthusiastic about performing microvolunteer actions and a meeting place. Where do you find people enthusiastic about this type of thing? From friends and acquaintances, and possibly even strangers. There may be occasions (for example, at a party, a conference, and so on) when you make contact with a person who expresses more than a passing interest in doing good deeds when you discuss it. These are the people who will be interested in joining your Help From Home Group.
There may be interested people at your workplace, at your sporting activity, at your church, and so on. Another source for members for your Group is advertising by way of notices. These can be posted at the supermarket, community centre, any notice boards in your area, the school, church, shop windows, etc. When talking about a meeting to prospective members of the group, mention it as a short, informal discussion. People are more inclined to attend a short meeting, so you need to keep the first meeting to no longer than two hours. Also make it clear that you have no affiliation with political or religious organisations (and that you’re not going to sell Tupperware or similar, at the meeting!).
Where Will You Meet?
The meeting place will naturally be your home (we do not recommend that women invite male strangers into their homes), but sometimes this may not be convenient. If this is the case, investigate where a small room can be hired for two hours at a reasonable cost. Try your local council, they normally have rooms at the council chambers, as well as at community centres. Churches sometimes hire out a space or check if there is a local Scout Hall, there are always a number of areas available. Non profit associations are normally given a discount. Approach the booking officer personally, tell your story, and ask if you can have the room ‘no charge’ as an act of kindness.
Planning Your First Meeting
The first meeting should be planned carefully to ensure it is a success (even if you have only one other person). Everyone should leave with the feeling that something has been achieved, that there are clear directives on what needs to be done, and everyone is looking forward to the next meeting.
Let us suppose you have found one or more people interested in coming to your first meeting. The day has come, and you’ve prepared some finger food (fruit is one choice or cheese and biscuits, or chocolate biscuits, and so on. For something to drink, mineral/spring water and fruit juice, and/or tea/coffee). You may like to have stick-on name tags for each member at the first meeting. Also prepare a simple agenda. Be clear about your objectives. What do you wish to achieve?
You can simply talk about the whole range of microvolunteering actions available or you may choose to agree on selecting certain micro actions the group can carry out, such as writing letters to sick children or playing games that donate to charity for free and see who achieves the highest score or crafting items of clothing for initiatives that help needy people. Bear in mind that the whole point of the exercise is not just to do something nice for someone else, but to enjoy doing it! If you don’t enjoy it, you’re not being kind to yourself, and that is the first principle in practicing acts of kindness - it has to be a ‘feel good’ experience for all concerned.
Your First Meeting
The first meeting is a ‘getting to know you’ affair, so it should be simple and brief. Have a clock prominently on display, and about 15 minutes before the meeting is due to end, bring to the attention of the group how much time remains. Keep the conversation focussed on what you have chosen to achieve i.e., keep to your agenda. If the group feels comfortable, then one of the group should take notes. Someone will usually volunteer to do this, but make sure their writing is legible, unless they agree to type up their notes. Have a pad on hand with something that will give a solid backing, so as to make writing easier. Record all members present, their addresses and telephone numbers.
The first meeting will generally consist of getting to know one another; sharing some microvolunteering actions that members have been involved in; agreeing to carry out some simple microvolunteering actions, and defining what these might be; exchanging names and phone numbers; and agreeing on the date of the next meeting, and its location.
For your first meeting, the agenda might read:
1. Everyone introduces themselves
2. Have a snack
3. Sit them down and ask them to give their idea of what they would like to do (write ideas down). Some people are reticent by nature. If you have one in your group, gently prompt them by asking if they would like to add something to what has been said.
4. Decide ‘what’. Briefly summarise each suggestion and decide on a short list if there have been a number of suggestions.
5. Decide ‘how’. Discuss how you will carry out your act/s.
6. Decide the date and time of your next meeting.
7. Close the meeting and have some tea or coffee.
If you don’t want people to stay too long, make it clear at the start of the meeting that there is a definite finish time for the meeting. If the meeting is to run for two hours, it will need to be run efficiently. With a strong chairperson, matters should be resolved relatively quickly, and everyone should have a clear understanding of what is to be done. Allow for a little more time for the second meeting, as people will recount their acts of kindness carried out since the last meeting.
The group would need to keep in regular contact with each other, to ensure that everyone is kept informed of what is going on, and to share bright ideas and so on.
You will find that working with a group will enhance your enthusiasm and feelings of fulfilment. You will gain some lovely new friends, and you will effectively raise the level of kindness in your community. As Irving Berlin wrote in the lyrics of I’ve got Rhythm, “Who could ask for anything more?”
Adapted from an article by the Australian Kindness Movement. Permission has been sought on 2 separate occasions to reprint the adapted article with no feedback forthcoming. If you are the author of the original article, please contact Help From Home so that we can discuss matters.