Putting Skills to Good Use… Outside the Office.
To some, it’s a scary word. To others, it is what life’s all about. To me, it’s a way to dive into in my community, to befriend new personalities, to learn and to donate my resources.
A few months ago I decided it was time to start volunteering here in Austin. After poking around and weighing my options, I decided to get involved with the HOPE Farmers Market, an ideal combination of Sunday Fun-day, food, music, art and creative people.
My first time helping at HOPE I hung around the merchandise station to sell posters, t-shirts and water bottles. I had a great time chatting up strangers about HOPE’s parent organization, mission and artwork. I even ended up buying a few posters for myself (which look fantastic in my apartment, I might add).
A week later the volunteer coordinator approached me with the question, “Do you have a smartphone?” “Yes.” “Okay, great. I’ll make you a Facebook admin for our page.”
It was brilliant! The PR and media flack in me was thrilled that I could bring my professional skills and resources to the table. After all, I spend much of my day discussing social media strategies for clients anyway, and I enjoy breaking out my DSLR for freelance photography projects—why not incorporate these skills into my volunteer work?
Since then I’ve been using my phone to update HOPE’s Facebook directly from the market, posting photos and videos of vendors, market-goers and live music. I’ve been taking photos with my DSLR camera for use on Facebook, the HOPE blog and even local ads for the market. And just last weekend we put together HOPE’s first ever market photo booth, complete with veggie props and burlap. Next on my list are website and blog recommendations.
Applying professional skills to personal interests. Is this volunteering of the modern world? As it turns out, I’m not the only HOPE volunteer with the idea. Young bike connoisseurs have established a pop-up fix up shop at the market, a part-time caterer runs the tasting booth and cooking demos (pictured below bottom), and the owner of an Austin landscaping company facilitates the community compost (pictured below top).
Maybe we’ll soon see award-winning chefs behind soup kitchen counters and urban architects building playgrounds. What skills can you offer your community?
Join me at the HOPE Farmers Market – Sundays 11 AM – 3 PM, Pine Street Station at E. 5th and Waller St., Austin, TX.