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  • Writer's pictureCharles Stringer

Three Lessons From Volunteering with NeighborLink Indianapolis

I have been working alongside NeighborLink Indianapolis as an AmeriCorps Public Ally for the last ten months. NeighborLink Indianapolis provides home repairs to low-income individuals with disabilities and senior homeowners at no cost. Most of my work with NeighborLink Indianapolis has been behind a computer working with data systems helping establish their customer relations management system; however, I made it out to volunteer a couple of times during my time with them. As with any new experience, lessons are learned. The following are the top three lessons I took away from the projects I worked on.

Lesson 1: Volunteering with NeighborLink is tons of fun!

It sounds simple because it is. It is a fun experience to gather with a group (whether you know them or not) and work together on a house project. My first time volunteering I worked with a group of employees from IU Health. Our task was painting a home. For the record, I do not have painting experience on homes, or anything else for that matter. Initially, this may seem like one of the least fun ways you could spend your morning, stick with me though. Within fifteen minutes of working beside someone I didn’t already know, we were laughing, talking, and having a good time. The common awkwardness of an uncertain social interaction broke down quickly and we just talked. Serving side-by-side brings people together in an easy way. It also helps when the task at hand doesn’t take much brain power. It’s easy to hold a conversation while doing it.

Lesson 2: Volunteering is rewarding.

At this same project, the homeowner came out and sat on his front porch. The whole morning, he chatted with whoever was working closest to him. He told stories and asked questions, but more than anything he expressed his gratitude. It was clear this project was more to him than a simple home repair. It was his community showing up and caring about him. Volunteering with NeighborLink gives you a chance to show your neighbors and community members that you see them, and you care enough to help them.

Lesson 3: This is a great way to learn new skills.

NeighborLink Indianapolis takes on a wide variety of home repair projects. Common repairs around exterior painting, plumbing, gutter repair, yard work, and more. If you’ve wanted to learn a skill around home repair, or even become more familiar with common tools, why not learn while serving your community? Every project has a leader who is competent in the required skill and is happy to instruct you on the skills and tools necessary. If you don’t know anything about plumbing but would love to learn, you can learn while serving at NeighborLink. If you don’t know how to use a drill but would love to learn, you can learn while serving at NeighborLink. For example, did you know there are ways to hold a paintbrush to make a better paint stroke? I didn’t before my project. There is something doubly satisfying about learning practical repair skills while giving back to your community.

When people come together to serve their community, it’s powerful. Be a part of that power. Want to see what lessons you learn on a NeighborLink Indianapolis job? Sign up to volunteer! Create an account, register for a project that interests you, and just like that, you’re ready to get out there.

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