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Volunteer Nation Blog

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“You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.” ~Winston Churchill


Paula Restrepo
Paula Restrepo
Paula Restrepo's Blog

The Multiple Benefits of Virtual Volunteering

In 2019, we all know how important one’s time is. There are always errands to run, calls to join or meetings to attend and a seemingly long workweek has passed by in a flash. Yet there is something so special about the feeling we get when we set aside time and donate to a mission we believe in. Truly, there is no better feeling than when we can see the impact of our donated time and efforts in real, life-changing situations.

 

We have seen in many cases that our time spent volunteering is often more appreciated and recognized than our regular work. This satisfaction and sense of positive impact, that come from volunteering is hard to get doing other activities.  At Learning Ally, our volunteers are influencing the lives of individuals who struggle to learn every day. After experiencing the benefits of our solutions, our students feel part of their learning community again and gain the confidence and skills to lead a successful and normal life.

 

As you all may know, Learning Ally’s Volunteer Nation is virtual. We are proud of this unique virtual volunteer model with its amazing Volunteer Nation Portal that will guarantee all resources needed by volunteers are in just one place.

 

Here are some benefits of virtual volunteering:

Flexible

Considering our busy lives, long days at work, family commitments and all the responsibilities and different activities we have to complete every week, we sometimes feel we are not doing enough for society. Having to drive weekly or monthly to a place where you want to volunteer is becoming more and more difficult. Virtual volunteering offers a solution to this problem – you can eliminate transportation time and gain the flexibility of volunteering from the comfort of your home.  All our Learning Ally volunteering opportunities are now performed online.

Broader Community of Volunteers

Virtual volunteering empowers a wider group of participants to give back. In person volunteering events will always be limited by space and resources. Our volunteers will not face these restrictions; in most cases, all of the work can be done using technology.

Service is not limited to particular geographies

Our volunteers can contribute skills and service to projects no matter where they are located. A volunteer in Seattle may support an organization’s mission or client in North Carolina, or in any place in the world!

Volunteering is Skill-Based

Most virtual volunteering engagements are skill based and require a level of technical knowledge. An active or retired professional can mentor a client interested in growing his/her business in a similar industry to their own. Similarly, at Learning Ally, an experienced math teacher can record books for struggling learners anywhere in the U.S.

Volunteers are part of a Virtual Community

Your network opportunities in a virtual community of volunteers grow exponentially. When you belong to a private Google Hangout, LinkedIn or even Facebook group of professionals who volunteer, “you can easily connect with hundreds of like-minded people with in-demand skills” (Raber, huffingtonpost.com)


 


New Volunteer Nation Manager

I am Paula Restrepo, and I have been working with Virtual Volunteer Communities in the U.S. for more than 13 years. I personally have recruited more than 2,500 volunteers while simultaneously creating a  unique model of virtual volunteering for nonprofit organizations.

 

I am originally from Colombia and have a background in Engineering and Nonprofit Management…I know that could be strange, but the combination of backgrounds and experiences have been essential in my career. This combination allows me to understand different sides of the equation and to think outside the box. I am a “people” person and I love interacting with volunteers - making sure they have a positive experience while accomplishing our important mission.

 

I have experience with voice recording as my husband and I host a podcast. Our weekly podcast BetterVida is oriented to the skilled Latino immigrant community in the U.S. Through this podcasting experience, I have learned so much about recording, editing and making sure our sound quality improves with every new podcast. I can relate to your challenges when recording or doing quality control of our audiobooks.

 

Learning Ally represents an amazing professional challenge in my career.  I want to build a solid, easy to navigate virtual community. My goal is to shape a community that simply recreates what we feel when we belong to any community that interacts in person. We all know organizations are becoming “more virtual” every day and the solutions that Learning Ally currently offers to struggling learners are based on virtual technology. Our volunteers need to be prepared and equipped for this big change and, most importantly, feel comfortable working virtually.

 

I want you to be in constant contact with me. I want you to help me better understand your needs and challenges. We want to create processes and community structures that are dynamic and flexible and become more efficient at producing audiobooks that are engaging and useful for struggling learners. Our differentiator is the human voice! Your voices make us unique and engaging. I want to hear your voice not only in our audiobooks, but also telling me how we can do things better. Please keep an eye on things that we can improve and feel free to share your thoughts with me.

 

My email is prestrepo@learningally.org and my direct line is 609.243.7099

 

I look forward to working with you all!