It’s Friday the 13th and whether you’re actually superstitious or just like to join in on the spooky fun, today is a day to throw some salt over your shoulder and revel in all that is creepy, sneaky and unsettling.

So watch out for black cats, stay away from ladders and check out our list of the top 5 fears of volunteers!

1. What if I don’t know anybody?
There’s a good chance that if you’re volunteering somewhere new, you will probably be interacting with people who you don’t know very well. At Chicago Cares, every project has a trained leader on site to help you get to know the other participants and any clients that you may be visiting. Even if meeting new folks makes you a little nervous, volunteering is a great way to overcome that fear because everyone there shares a common bond and interest in serving others.

2. What if I don’t like the project I choose?
While we strive to make every volunteer project a fun and informative experience, there is something to be said for personal preference. It’s great to try out various sites and different types of projects but you may find that some of them just don’t work for you. At Chicago Cares, volunteers are not required to make long-term commitments to projects so if you find yourself wishing you were doing something else, then just choose a new project, site or leader for your next volunteer experience. Give it some time and you’ll find the perfect place to serve!

3. What if I can’t/don’t know how to do the work?
New experiences can be scary. Whether it’s facing a group of energetic first graders, building a raised garden bed at a community garden or stepping foot in a senior housing facility; you will probably feel ill-equipped from time to time. The good news is that our Volunteer Leaders are always there, ready to help. These special volunteers are trained to be able to help you navigate any new experiences that you have while volunteering. Chicago Cares also tests each and every project model to ensure that by working together, every volunteer can have a quality experience and make a difference in our community.

4. Isn’t that in a bad neighborhood?
We don’t deny that some neighborhoods have a better reputation than others. We do, however, encourage volunteers to step out of the neighborhoods they know and are accustomed to in order to volunteer where the need is greatest. If you find yourself volunteering in an area that makes you nervous, contact your leader before the project. Your leader can let you know the best way to get to a project if you don’t have a car, as well as suggest a place to park if you do have a car. Your volunteer leader might even let you know of an opportunity to carpool with another volunteer or meet in a central location to take the train together so you don’t have to travel to the site alone. If you’re still feeling anxious, check out our other tips on volunteering outside of your comfort zone.

5. What if I’m just not good at volunteering?
We’re going to let you in on a little secret. While all of the planning and research and project testing helps to make a program great, there’s really only one thing necessary to make a successful volunteer experience: YOU. The amazing thing about service is that every person, no matter the age, skill level, education or special circumstance, can make a difference. An open mind, a willing heart and a few hours are all we need to turn anyone into a volunteering rock star.

Say goodbye to your fears and find a project to get your volunteering adventure started today!

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