New in Town? Tips to Finding Your Best Local Groups

Heather Palow
 - 
February 7, 2019

As we’ve navigated our new towns in the Pacific North West corner of the US, I’ve enjoyed the connections I’ve met along the way but found that participating in volunteer groups create a stronger bond to my community. Relocating to Washington state wasn’t my first move; I’ve lived in 6 different states and understand that volunteering with others has created many of the best relationships I have.

The key to successfully connecting to opportunities is being open to the “learning without over committing” volunteer process.

  • Don’t commit to any groups until you’ve participated with the organization at least 4 times and still feel excited to join them.
  • Be open to the fact that organizations that you’ve participated with at another location may be completely different in your new location.
  • Create balance by focusing on one organization per area of your life.
  • Be open to reevaluating the organizations you support a couple of times a year so you can make changes if your impressions of the organizations change over time.
  • Commit to only one leadership role in your first year to be certain you aren’t over extending yourself.

Visit one new organization a week so you don’t feel like they blend into each other. To find local groups in your area, visit resources such as:

Meetup.com is a great way to find groups within walking or driving distance of your new town.

With these tips, I focused my volunteer efforts with:

  • A group in my town that supports my biggest hobby. It happens to be a similar to an organization I supported in Vermont and I’ve already done some volunteer activities and meet some new friends.
  • Washington Career Development Association An organization that supports the career and coaching portion of my business. It is a southwest Washington chapter of the statewide organization. I’ve agreed to a leadership position and look forward to representing independent business owner in career, training and development activities.
  • SCORE, an organization that supports the small business consulting and human resource training portion of my business. It is a local, regional, and national organization with a focus on supporting small business startup activities. I have volunteered informally with this organization in the past and am excited to become a formal member.
  • An local organization that is heavily involved in my family’s education with a focus on learning to read and science related activities. I have volunteered in many classrooms enjoy spending time with curious young minds.
Sunset, Washington State

The above list may look hefty with being a small business owner, spouse, parent, friend, sibling, etc. but the balance and enjoyment will be worth the volunteer time as the connections to my community increase and we learn more about the resources, people, and places that make our new home unique.

Happy Connecting,

Heather Palow Finding Your Moment

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