Does anyone who actively volunteers want to share their experiences, what they took away, why they were initially motivated, or anything else?
If not, what are your thoughts on volunteering (AKA working for free)? Who would you volunteer for, what/how would you contribute, and how much time would you allot to this endeavour?
As much as I like to tell myself I volunteer because I deeply care about the cause, the biggest motivator for me is going to be if I like the people I would be working with. I should probably try to break out of that and get involved with things that makes me interact with people outside of my comfort zone, but I’ve really only volunteered with organizations in high school and college where I was with my Muslim friends
Are you trying to set up a volunteering opportunity?
No I’m just wondering and curious about volunteers and the different things they do
I usually volunteer in ways that make use of my skill base that will improve it over time.
I am currently running server admin for a local Islamic society website.
I guess that isn’t so much volunteering as it is working for experience.
I must answer this tomorrow!
Warning long post incoming
I’d like to say I volunteer alot and have volunteered alot over my years. I mostly volunteer with Muslim organizations because I want to help our community grow and become better plus I like to rack up those sweet sweet good deeds
I started volunteering at a fairly young age (around 8th grade). Mostly because I got involved with my local youth group (which later turned into a Young Muslims unit thanks to me and my brother) because the apartment we lived in was right next to our masjid. We’d see kids playing on the weekends and wanted to join in and took on a leadership role fairly quickly. I’d say that played a huge role in me being interested in my local community.
My need for volunteering came because I always felt a little empty when it came to my daily life. No matter what I did I always felt that I needed something more and later found out that I only felt truly satisfied with my life when I was either volunteering for Islamic orgs or learning about Islam in some way. I guess because my parents were never really able to answer my questions about religion and also didn’t want my brothers and I to go out an learn either. The masjid that I go to till this day doesn’t have an imam or local scholar to teach the community about Islam so we had to go far to other communities to learn (1-2hr bus rides which turned into ~45min drives once we got cars). The first time I heard about Al-Maghrib and the fact that they do detailed weekend courses about Islamic topics I wanted to go so bad but my parents refused to let us go. I remember we had to trick our parents into saying we had a Track Meet that weekend (me and my brother both ran track in highschool) and we would leave our house dressed in track clothes and then our friends mom would pick us up and we’d change clothes in the car and go to the Al-Maghrib class…
ANYWAY so volunteering is a big part of my life and InshaAllah I plan on continuing it until I leave this earth. Sometimes I spend way too much time volunteering but I don’t regret it and am very happy I did those things. I’m of the opinion that since Allah has given me all this opportunity, I should use it to better my community.
I can’t even begin to describe the feeling that you get when you see a young kid that has been coming to your youth group for years and you can tell that he’s been struggling internally with the deen but one day comes up to you to thank you for never giving up on him. Those moments I will cherish for a lifetime inshaAllah.
Currently I’m VP of my local Al-Maghrib chapter as well as the head of the region for Young Muslims. Other orgs that I volunteer for: CAIR, Islamic Relief, ICNA, Helping Hands USA.
Feel free to ask my any questions
Awesome post BloodMoney, I do have a few questions:
How did you or others you know find out about the volunteering opportunities?
What kind of stuff did you do when volunteering? By this I guess I mean, what were your responsibilities?
How was the volunteering experience like? Do you have someone you report to or was there a system which told you what to do? Maybe you were given instructions beforehand?
Tell me all the juicy details!
I asked BloodMoney directly, but if anyone else wants to share, please do!
How are you able to get recruits for those 50+ units? How much time did you dedicate to this over the years (in terms of hours per week or similar)?
In a way, MG is run by accidental volunteering
By which I mean, I don’t think the people who put hours into creating this community consciously know they’re volunteering haha
The 50+ units was for Young Muslims and getting that is easy (relatively). Basically the idea behind YM is that currently there is no structure to how youth groups are run across America and so what you find happening is a motivated person or group of people at a local masjid want to start something up and then spend the next few years building it from the ground up and doing all the leg work etc and then eventually they either burn out or move away or get married etc. and the unit falls to pieces until years later someone else picks it up and starts from ground zero again. The reason they can’t keep it consistent is because they have to start from the beginning each time because the old person never had time to train anyone to take over. No formal leadership training existed for them so they didn’t know how to lead it and had to learn from trial and error.
So what we have done is created a structure that works that any youth group in the nation can follow and inshaAllah be successful but one thing we take pride in and spend the most effort on is consistency and continuation of the unit. Alhamdulillah the unit that I first started in has been going strong for 17+ years now and there are older ones in Chicago and NewYork (The original 3). We give a unit a-z everything they’ll need for them to be successful (halaqa guidelines, leadership training, time management, how to treat others etc), its just a matter of how motivated the group or individual is (thats the hard part tbh).
So what we’ll do is pitch that to a masjid that currently doesn’t have a youth group or has one that is struggling and see if they want in and have been successful so far. One thing that we’re currently struggling with (and this seems to be more of a west coast issue) is that the masjid wants to have complete control over everything that occurs inside it and so do not want outside orgs running anything (especially their youth groups). We’re having a hard time getting them to understand that we only provide guidance and the unit is first and foremost for the masjid and the local community, for the youth in the area to have a place were core islamic values are being taught etc.
Sorry this just turned into a ptich for YM. I swear that was not my intention lol
Cool cool, what about time commitment to this project? You said it took 15 years but how much did you have to commit to this on the monthly/weekly?
Edit, here’s a plug for YM
Not sure if this is affiliated;
hahaha yup thats it, man they haven’t updated that site I made it a while ago.
Anyway ummm I’d say at one point I was having 2 meetings a week that lasted around 2 hours each and a full day saturday. 4+8 = 12hrs /week ish. Monthly I’d say I put in at least 50hrs for all my volunteer time with all other orgs
That was the peak for me I think and I its definitely not something everyone can do because people tend to burn out way to quickly. I’d say if you’re just starting out do maybe 2-4 hours a week of volunteering and then max 5-7 hours a week if you want to keep it steady and so you won’t burn out.
Cool stuff. Thanks a lot for sharing.
I need to get more active in the community, but I find I need to work on myself a lot more before joining the bigger picture.
That’s what is really stopping me I guess. When I think about it though, at what level would I be satisfied with myself? There’s so much to improve and I don’t even know where to start sometimes. There’s this one hierarchy I go back; self > family > community > world. The ultimate goal is to start working for the world, but when you can’t even improve yourself, it gets pretty depressing lol…
BRO! That’s actually very common and often a huge misunderstanding. We as humans will never be “perfect” or “good enough” to do what we want to do. In fact by being more active in the community and volunteering you ARE working on yourself. When you do these things you’ll find that everyone is in the same boat, trying to improve themselves at the same time helping the community. And joining the community makes making yourself better easier because you are surrounding yourself with people that are doing good things and are trying to make themselves better overall so naturally you also become better because of the company that exists.
Remember shaytan is strongest when you are alone. If you have a group its harder for him to try and convince you do to haram. So don’t ever think you’re not good enough to join your local masjid because joining others makes it easier for you to become better.
I have much reflection to do!
@Roketfiq ? I wanted to read your post too!
@Wulf - lol I started writing and then realized its going to take some effort to keep concise.
Ill try to keep my post short. I have volunteered since I could pick up a chair at the masjid and help set up for Ramadan. I loved it as a kid, I loved it as a young adult and I loved it as an adult. I got involved with MSAs from an early age as well and when I got into college, I was always participating at whatever event I could. I also eventually became president of the MSA at my university (and loved my time in the position). In all my years, however, Ive only experienced two spectacular MSAs (mine was NOT one of them lol) but Im sure there are more. MSAs always carry two things: a reputation for being just social organizations (which I never had a problem with or saw anything wrong with) and drama lol. Finding one with true strength and a real sense of community was/is rare.
Masjids are no different, if not worse, and I went from being THE volunteer at each event to being retired lol. Pulling out of the masjid scene entirely. The masjid I was affiliated to most recently did so much right and then eventually screwed it all up doing so much wrong. Youth programs rose and fell. Proactive boards were formed and destroyed. Its pathetic and the same thing is repeated again and again across the country from city to city. Again and again communities splinter and a new masjid is formed with a new masjid fundraiser every couple of months for some idiot or another who wants to build yet another home for their faction. Ive lived in 6 different states and as many if not more different communities. Muslims are their own worst enemy.
Going back to volunteering - Ive been hating on MSAs and the masjids but that doesnt mean I dont miss it - I still volunteer and still love it. Volunteering seems to be best when out of my element or when Ive put myself in a position where I dont know most of the people there and I have to do my part and do it with fervor. I love meeting new people and contributing what knowledge I have to the various situations. It reignites the dedication I once had to really giving my all to a cause in the moment. Most recently I started missing the community during Ramadan and decided to masjid hop the whole month long. It was great and I found a masjid or two where I could give them the help I once did at my other community. A long time ago I realized you dont become more until you’ve done a dirty job. Cleaning after Muslims teaches you much about yourself lol. It teaches you to have patience and withstand and teaches you that you’re capable of more than you think.
Anyway, Id comment more but Im not sure what else to say. Many of my general comments are vague and have long backstories behind them. Ill always love volunteering. Its just really hard to find something worth believing in for me. Especially after all the BS and the cliques and the non-sense. People are beautiful when they really come together.
Thanks Roket. I know what you mean about cleaning up after others. That point hit my heart man.