It’s tough to put into words how much of a godsend reliable, responsible, and hardworking non-member volunteers are to the American Legion Auxiliary. Through most of the ALA’s century of existence, volunteers who don’t belong to the Auxiliary have assisted ALA members in achieving our mission to selflessly serve veterans, military, and their families, mentor youth, and contribute positively to local communities.
How wonderful is it that there are people willing to give of themselves to help or honor others — and ask for nothing in return? ALA members understand that because they, too, are volunteering their time and efforts for a greater good. The American Legion Auxiliary is a community of volunteers serving veterans, military, and their families.
Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the ALA has seen non-member volunteers step up and help work on our numerous mission-focused events, activities, and outreach. As it turns out, many individuals are experiencing a greater level of compassion now. They are looking for ways to make a difference in the lives of others. The ALA offers opportunities to do that.
There are plenty of impactful ALA mission-focused projects that non-member volunteers can safely participate in, such as tending to a community’s unity garden, or assisting at a local food pantry specifically for veterans, servicemembers, and military families in need. The possibilities continue from there.
When seeking non-member volunteers for Auxiliary events and activities, be sure to get the word out well ahead of time. Share the information about your upcoming ALA event and include a callout for volunteers. Use well-known social media outlets like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Remember to include a contact name and number, or email address, and be sure to respond to any inquiries in a timely manner.
Traditional media also is an option for spreading the word and seeking volunteers. Local television news programs sometimes spotlight community organizations and tell their stories. The same is true for many local newspapers. Frequently, papers publish community news, events, and happenings. If you are interviewed for a television news segment or newspaper article, consider mentioning who the event will help and why the ALA wants to help them. Speak sincerely and from the heart.
Putting up posters in public places, where permitted, is another idea. List the basics — the who, what, when, where, and why. Don’t forget the contact info: a telephone number or email address.
When the event or activity is over, thank the volunteers for their participation. Small gestures, such as a handwritten thank-you note or phone call, go a long way to show your appreciation. You might even recruit a new member because of those extra steps.
Allowing interested individuals to volunteer with the ALA has another benefit: It allows people to learn more about the ALA and its members. It’s an opportunity for the Auxiliary to show its story instead of only telling it to the public. What people see and experience tends to make more of an impact on them than what they’re told. While it’s not the intended purpose of seeking help from the community for Auxiliary events and activities, a non-member volunteer could decide to become an ALA member someday if eligibility criteria are met. Even if they don’t join the Auxiliary — or aren’t eligible to do so, non-member volunteers who are compassionate, reliable, and responsible can be invaluable helpers.
MAKING THE CASE FOR VOLUNTEERISM
Although there seems to be more people interested in volunteering these days, others may still need to be gently persuaded. To make the case during a casual one-on-one conversation — without pressuring the person — talk about the people, place, or thing being impacted by the project. Also, consider sharing some of Volunteermatch.org’s “Great Reasons to Volunteer” listed below.
- Help others
- Make a difference
- Find purpose
- Enjoy a meaningful conversation
- Connect with your community
- Feel involved
- Contribute to a cause that you care about
- Use your skills in a productive way
- Develop new skills
- Meet new people
- Explore new areas of interest
- Meet good people
- Expand your horizons
- Get out of the house
- Make new friends
- Feel better about yourself