While no two projects will be the same, successful projects will share a few common practices. We encourage you to incorporate the following elements into your service project:
- Create a team with your friends and neighbors to share the effort;
- Set outcome-based goals and track your progress to those goals;
- Celebrate your successes together.
The Challenge: Many community-based organizations do not have enough capacity to manage a large number of volunteers, so they need you to organize yourself in coordination with them. This tool kit is designed to either help you organize a group and be a positive addition to a community-based organization, or, if such an organization does not exist, to be a well-organized independently-run group that fills a needed gap in the community.
A step by step guide to getting started and executing service activities follows. Please let us know how your project goes and what you learn by telling your story at Serve.gov.
Step One: Identify Local Partners
Check out the organizations already doing good work in your area. Many existing service groups have identified community needs and built the expertise to provide solutions.
- Call your local community senior center and ask how volunteers can help with their programming.
- Get a guide to finding local partners.
- Ask the existing organizations if they'd like to invite their members to join your walking team.
Step Two: Build a Team
Teams can help to support and motivate members and hold each other accountable. Teams build community. Ask your family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, and faith group members to walk with you.
- Host a house meeting or pot luck to choose a project, set goals, recruit volunteers and plan next steps.
- Get a guide for hosting a house meeting.
- Important note: Safety must always come first! Before goals are set and a team is finalized, it is important that all members of the team complete a basic health assessment. A sample form can be found here.
- Any members with health concerns should talk to their doctor before participating in the program. As team coordinator, you should keep in mind the health and activity level of your participants as you help set goals and keep them motivated.
Step Three: Set Goals
Set a service goal and hold yourself accountable. Commit as individuals and as a team to a walking program. Set your goals high to stretch yourself. Then keep track of how you are doing and designate someone to be responsible for updating the group on how you are progressing toward your goals. You’ll be surprised at how much you can do when you commit, focus, and follow through.
Step Four: START WALKING
The key to effective service is planning. Organize your materials, make confirmation calls and, if you have time, read supplemental materials before you volunteer.
Step Five: Report and Celebrate Successes
Your team members, the community, and the President want to know about your successes and hear your stories. Share your accomplishments by reporting your results. We will highlight the best stories throughout the year. Tell us about your successes and what you have learned, or just tell your story of service at Serve.gov
Material provided by AARP as part of its Create the Good® initiative. To learn more go to CreateTheGood.org.