Volunteer Guide - Ten Principles
People usually sign up for an Outreach360 trip to make a difference, to offer a helping hand. And you will make a huge difference during your trip and through your contribution of time and money to Outreach360.
But there is also a lot available for you yourself to learn and gain from the trip. It’s why volunteers often say they gained more from the trip than they gave.
To maximize the experience, we have assembled 10 principles. Please take some time to review these now. Your team leader will discuss these with you during orientation, and refer to them throughout the week.
Hopefully, you will view the world and yourself a little differently after your trip; reflecting on and embracing these principles will help you do that.
- Acknowledge Yourself -Acknowledge yourself for the difference you are making. Very few people are willing to do what you have done—raise or donate funds, take a week or more of your time, give up other options you had for this time (skiing, the beach, work, etc)- to volunteer for the benefit of kids you don’t know. And many of you had to overcome fears and obstacles—a different language, not knowing anyone, only knowing Outreach360 from the internet, parent’s concerns, etc. It’s a big deal that you are here. The orphanages would not be existing, at least as they are, without you. Celebrate the difference you are making!
- You Are Outreach360 - There is no big staff of Outreach360 doing work. Nothing happens without you—the majority of funds and labor come from the volunteers. You aren’t here to “help” Outreach360, you “are” Outreach360.
- It’s Not About You - As generous as you are, sometimes your time here can become about you. “What difference am I going to make?”, “How can I optimize the use of my time”, “I can’t speak the language”, “there’s too much free time”, “When will my donated items be used?” Focus on the big picture, the difference you are making as a group. Take the focus off of you, and enjoy the impact the kids are receiving. Example—reading a story to one of the little boys may not be the best utilization of your skill, but it means the world to the boy.
- This Is It - Most of the time, Americans are living in the future. Kids are waiting for high school, high-schoolers are waiting for college, college students are waiting to graduate and get a job, single people are waiting to get married, etc. etc. People don’t live that way in the Dominican Republic; they live much more for each day. This is a unique opportunity to really live in the present —forget about worries at home, forget about tomorrow, quit thinking about what lasting impact you are having—just enjoy the present moment.
- Communicate Love - It is not necessary to know Spanish to be involved with the kids and to make a difference. We’ve had many volunteers who spoke no Spanish make a huge difference with the kids and had a great time; we’ve had other volunteers fluent in Spanish get frustrated because of the unique Dominican words and expressions. The experience is totally what you make of it. No matter how much spanish we know, we always wish we knew more. What you know is what you know, so make the best of it. Don’t let your lack of Spanish be an excuse to not get involved.
- Poco a Poco (Little by Little) - You can’t change the world in a week. But, you can make a world of a difference in one or more of these kids lives. Don’t be frustrated by the slow progress; great things happen little by little. Your contributions this week, along with those volunteers who came before you, and those volunteers who will come after you, are making a huge difference.
- Jump Right In - You’ve got a short period of time here. Don’t spend a day or two getting to know what is going on. Jump right in, be assertive, do what you came here to do. If you wait till you get it all figured out, your time will be over.
- Serve, Don’t Help - There’s a subtle difference between serving and helping. We’re here to serve, not to help. These are not poor, sick, helpless people who need our help. We’re here to serve. We share our strengths and blessings with them, and they share their blessings with us. It’s a two-way street.
- Be Flexible/Creative - Living and working here requires flexibility and creativity. Practice it, enjoy it! You have all the skills you need to be effective and productive at the orphanage.
- You Are Responsible - The experience you have here is up to you. You need to take responsibility for your experience. Do not look to the team leader to give you the experience. Use the team leader as a resource. Communicate with the team leader. They will support and facilitate your work. But you are ultimately responsible.