Aligning Your Heartstrings

Giving back was a big part of how I was raised. My mom was always doing something to expand my worldview and I’m so grateful for that because it’s a big part of how I live my life. When I first moved to Greensboro, the first thing I wanted to figure out was how to get involved with helping my new community. Luckily, I found a group of women with similar interests and joined the Junior League, but I wish I would’ve also known about The Volunteer Center. Its mission is pretty self-explanatory: it connects people with volunteer opportunities.

Carley Swaim, executive director of The Volunteer Center of Greensboro, talked a lot about alignment with me; as in, the whole goal of TVC is to align people with volunteer opportunities that will make a lasting impact. “Volunteering is absolutely a lifestyle. People that give back to the community are saintly in a lot of ways because when you give of your money, you can potentially get your money back, but when you give of your time, you can’t get your time back. We live in a very giving community. We give a lot. It’s really not a lack of volunteering that’s out there,” she says. “I like to say that we’re in the work of aligning people with their passion. If you’re going to align someone with a passion, you have to find out who they are, where they are in life, and meet them there. It’s our job at the Volunteer Center to make sure that everyone has an extraordinary volunteer experience.”

In order to do so, Swaim and her team conduct interviews to find out what really resonates with the potential volunteer. “I’m not a fan of episodic volunteering,” she says emphatically. “The way we encourage people to give back is a little different than the way it once was. We get a lot of calls like, I want to go to the soup kitchen, or I want to feed the homeless, and we still do that, but the way we go about it now is a little more collaborative. We find out someone’s interests and we align them with an organization that’s doing something very specific, like building a habitat house or doing a canned food drive. We help them align in ways that will make a long-term difference. That way, it’s very collaborative.”

To get your volunteer on, visit

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