A “volunteer” is anyone who without compensation or expectation of compensation performs a task at the direction of and on behalf of the City. They provide the goods or services of their own free will or assist in order to comply with community service requirements mandated by a court or institution of learning.
“Regular-service volunteer” means a person engaged in specific voluntary service activities on an ongoing or continual basis. “Occasional service or Event” volunteer means a person who provides a one time or occasional voluntary service.
There are three distinct roles a volunteer can serve:
- Oftentimes volunteers serve in a specific department to enhance the quality of services in City government. The City welcomes the contribution of varied skills and talents of individuals and/or groups to add support to City departments and expand services to the public. This type of volunteer must be officially accepted and enrolled by the City prior to performance of any task, and shall not be considered employee of the City.
- The City aims to strengthen and enhance vibrant, growing networks of public/private partnerships made up by engaged business leaders, civic associations, and neighbors.Volunteers routinely work together in service to address pressing issues in our communities and on a series of priority initiatives. Volunteers engaged in this capacity do not have to undergo back ground checks unless specifically required.
- The City proudly puts on dozens of events throughout the year and volunteers are serving in a variety of capacities. No back ground check is required.
Our Pledge: The volunteer opportunity must be a meaningful and mutually satisfying experience, and build community.Therefore volunteering is a two-way street. Not only do the recipients of your voluntary action benefit, but so do you, the volunteers. Volunteering provides a satisfying outlet for your talents, ambitions, and concerns in ways that are different from your daily responsibilities and make a difference in your community.
Benefits of volunteering #1: Volunteering connects you to others
One of the better-known benefits of volunteering is the impact on the community. Unpaid volunteers are often the glue that holds a community together. Volunteering allows you to connect to your community and make it a better place. Dedicating your time as a volunteer helps you make new friends, expand your network, and boost your social skills.
- Volunteering helps you make new friends and contacts
One of the best ways to make new friends and strengthen existing relationships is to commit to a shared activity together. Volunteering is a great way to meet new people, especially if you are new to an area. Volunteering also strengthens your ties to the community and broadens your support network, exposing you to people with common interests, neighborhood resources, and fun and fulfilling activities.
- Volunteering increases your social and relationship skills
While some people are naturally outgoing, others are shy and have a hard time meeting new people. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to practice and develop your social skills, since you are meeting regularly with a group of people with common interests. Once you have momentum, it’s easier to branch out and make more friends and contacts.
Benefits of volunteering #2: Volunteering is good for your mind and body
- Volunteering increases self-confidence. Volunteering can provide a healthy boost to your self-confidence, self-esteem, and life satisfaction. You are doing good for others and the community, which provides a natural sense of accomplishment. Your role as a volunteer can also give you a sense of pride and identity. And the better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive view of your life and future goals.
- Volunteering combats depression. Reducing the risk of depression is another important benefit of volunteering. A key risk factor for depression is social isolation. Volunteering keeps you in regular contact with others, and helps you develop a solid support system, which in turn protects you against stress and depression when you’re going through challenging times.
- Volunteering helps you stay physically healthy. Volunteering is good for your health at any age, but it’s especially beneficial in older adults. Studies have found that those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate than those who do not, even when considering factors like the health of the participants. Volunteering has also been shown to lessen symptoms of chronic pain or heart disease.
Benefits of volunteering #3: Volunteering brings fun and fulfillment to your life
Volunteering is a fun and easy way to explore your interests and passions. Doing volunteer work you find meaningful and interesting can be a relaxing, energizing escape from your day-to-day routine of work, school, or family commitments. Volunteering also provides you with renewed creativity, motivation, and vision that can carry over into your personal and professional life.
Many people volunteer in order to make time for hobbies outside of work as well. For instance, if you have a desk job and long to spend time outdoors, you might consider volunteering to help plant a community garden, help with a park beautification project or become a Street Captain.
Benefits of volunteering #4: The happiness effect
Helping others kindles happiness, as many studies have demonstrated. When researchers at the London School of Economics examined the relationship between volunteering and measures of happiness in a large group of American adults, they found the more people volunteered, the happier they were, according to a study in Social Science and Medicine. Compared with people who never volunteered, the odds of being “very happy” rose 7% among those who volunteer monthly and 12% for people who volunteer every two to four weeks. Among weekly volunteers, 16% felt very happy—a hike in happiness comparable to having an income of $75,000–$100,000 versus $20,000, say the researchers.
No. The City of Fort Lauderdale welcomes any volunteer from anywhere to make Fort Lauderdale a better place to live, work, play and raise our children.
I reside in another state for a few months each year. Can I still volunteer during the months I am here?Yes. Just indicate this on your application and we will contact you, when you are here.
Volunteers need to be at least 15 years of age (subject to child labor laws). However, the City is creating family friendly volunteer opportunities, but parental or authorized adult supervision is always required.
Yes. The City is always looking to create family friendly volunteer opportunities.While it might be a challenge to coordinate everyone’s schedules, volunteering as a family has many worthwhile benefits. Children watch everything you do. By giving back to the community, you show them firsthand how volunteering makes a difference and how good it feels to help others and enact change.
- Yes. The City holds several special events throughout the year. Many of these are in the evenings and on weekends and require assistance from volunteers.
No. As a public agency, the City of Fort Lauderdale (unlike private business) cannot hire people just because they are working as a volunteer.
However, if you’re considering a new career, volunteering can help you get experience in your area of interest and meet people in the field. Even if you’re not planning on changing careers, volunteering gives you the opportunity to practice important skills used in the workplace, such as teamwork, communication, problem solving, project planning, task management, and organization. You might feel more comfortable stretching your wings at work once you’ve honed these skills in a volunteer position first.
Volunteering can provide career experience
Volunteering offers you the chance to try out a new career without making a long-term commitment. It is also a great way to gain experience in a new field. In some fields, you can volunteer directly at an organization that does the kind of work you’re interested in. Your volunteer work might also expose you to professional organizations or internships that could be of benefit to your career
Volunteering can teach you valuable job skills
Just because volunteer work is unpaid does not mean the skills you learn are basic. Many volunteering opportunities provide extensive training. Volunteering can also help you build upon skills you already have and use them to benefit the greater community. For instance, if you hold a successful sales position, you raise awareness for your favorite cause as a volunteer advocate, while further developing and improving your public speaking, communication, and marketing skills.For current job openings in the City of Fort Lauderdale see the Human Resources Department page, http://www.fortlauderdale.gov/jobs/jobs.htm.
It is the pledge of The Fort Lauderdale Neighbor Volunteer office that the volunteer opportunity must be a meaningful and mutually satisfying experience, and build community. Each volunteer is given the opportunity and flexibility to volunteer at any given time during an event, in a specific department and at special programs dealing with the elderly or youth. To ensure this flexibility, the NVO requires that every regular-service volunteer undergoes Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) fingerprint criminal investigation checks through the Volunteer & Employee Criminal History System (VECHS).“Occasional Service or Event” volunteer who provide a one time or occasional voluntary service not dealing with the elderly or youth do not need to undergo a background check.
These are the basic requirements and procedures:
1. Application: As a potential volunteer, you will need to provide a photo I.D., and complete this Application and the Liability Waiver contained within. Applicants under the age of 18 must have written consent of a parent to guardian prior to volunteering.
2. Personal Interview: Upon review of your application, the Neighbor Volunteer Office will interview you regarding your skills, qualifications, interest and goals.
3. Background Screening: In an effort to ensure the safety of City residents, employees and volunteers, the City of Fort Lauderdale requires that every volunteer undergoes a background check.
4. Orientation: There will be a monthly “Getting to Know Yourself” class to match your strengths, interests and passion with a volunteer opportunity that is meaningful to you.
5. Placement: In order to assure a mutually satisfying experience, an interview will be set up with the chosen department liaison to further discuss the volunteer duties, code of conduct and department’s function. When an agreement is reached between you and the department, a placement can be made.
6. Once the paperwork and background check is complete, a badge and parking pass (if required) will be issued and you will be notified of the assignment details. A mandatory time sheet is used to track volunteer hours.
- Staff from the department in which you are volunteering will be responsible for training you for your assignment. Many times, training occurs on the job. Staff will be available to answer any of your questions.
- There is no limit on how many hours a volunteer can serve. Time commitment and schedule depends upon the volunteer position you are interested in. Generally, interns volunteer between 8 and 10 hours per week. Volunteers in other positions vary greatly; some volunteer only a few hours per month while others volunteer as many as 20 hours per week. When and how long a volunteer works should be agreed upon by the volunteer and his/her supervisor.
- Absolutely! You are allowed to accept as much responsibility as you can successfully manage.
- Volunteers are expected to dress neatly in clothes suitable for the job they are performing. If there is a specific dress code for the volunteer assignment, the volunteer will be notified.
The City is self-insured for Workers’ Compensation, and volunteers are eligible for medical expenses only. (Volunteers are encouraged to consult with their own insurance agents regarding the extension of their personal insurance to include volunteer work.) Specific information regarding Workers’ Compensation is available from the Human Resources Department.
Whether due to a lack of transportation, time constraints, a disability or other reasons, many people prefer to volunteer via phone or computer. There are many projects where you can help. Writing and graphic design lends itself to working at home, and in today’s digital age many organizations might also need help with email and websites.
If you think home-based volunteering might be right for you, contact organizations you like and ask what some of the possibilities might be. Some volunteer organizations may require you to attend an initial training or periodical meetings. You also want to make sure that you are getting enough social contact, and that the organization is available to support you should you have questions.
No. The City attempts to make arrangements for free parking, but cannot guarantee that it is available. However, check with your tax expert, because there are a number of tax benefits available to volunteers. In preparing their tax returns, volunteers may deduct non-reimbursable out of pocket expenses directly related to their volunteer services if they itemize deductions. Examples of types of expenditures include:
• Bus or cab transportation
• Parking costs, toll fees
• Telephone bills
• Supplies purchased to perform volunteer duties
• Automobile mileage and expenses for gas
• Any other non-reimbursable out of pocket expense related to volunteer dutiesFor more information on how you can get involved, please visit the City of Fort Lauderdale Neighbor Volunteer Office in City Hall at 100 N. Andrews Ave, 5th Floor, Fort Lauderdale 33301 or call 954 828-8658.
A recent poll by the Orlando parade confirms that 90% of Americans believe that it is “important to be personally involved in supporting a cause we believe in” in their communities.
The City is running a series of "Getting to Know Yourself” workshops that allow you to identify your passion and figure out how to find or even create the right volunteer opportunity for you.
To get clarity, ask yourself:
- What are you passionate about?
For example, do I want…
- …to make it better around where I live
- …to meet people who are different from me
- …to try something new
- …to do something with my spare time
- …to see a different way of life and new places
- …to have a go at the type of work I might want to do as a full-time job
- …to do more with my interests and hobbies
- …to do something I’m good at
There are numerous volunteer opportunities available. The key is to find a volunteer position that you would enjoy and are capable of doing. It’s also important to make sure that your commitment matches the organization’s needs. The following questions can help you narrow your options:
- Would you like to work with people or would you rather work in solitude?
- Do you prefer to work alone or as part of a team?
- Are you better behind the scenes or do you prefer to take a more visible role?
- How much time are you willing to commit?
- How much responsibility are you ready to take on?
- What skills can you bring a volunteer job?
- What causes are important to you?
If you are still unsure about what volunteer position is right for you, call the Neighbor Volunteer Office at 954.828.8658 or e-mail NeighborVolunteerOffice@fortlauderdale.gov . We will do our best to find you a rewarding place to volunteer.
- What are you passionate about?