Friending For a Cause

I should start wearing this nametag at all times. When you’re a semi-professional friender, you’re constantly sporting the sticky little bastards. I spent six hours this weekend battling the stubborn adhesives, which were constantly coming unstuck in the August heat.

I’ve been wanting to do some volunteer work since moving to Chicago. Other than a day spent knocking on doors for Mr. President a few years back, I haven’t yet fulfilled that goal. Plenty of people have suggested volunteering as a prime activity for meeting pals, but I’ve had trouble finding something that works with my schedule. So many worthwhile organizations require an ongoing commitment, and my calendar these days just doesn’t have much room. Enter One Brick.

I found out about this organization from a reader (thanks Laura!) and fellow Chicagoan. It was perfect for me for two reasons: 1) It’s no commitment volunteering, meaning you sign up and show up for events that you’re interested in and work for your schedule, and 2) The organization encourages “a social atmosphere around volunteering” and invites volunteers to gather at a local restaurant after each event. You do good, you make friends—a win-win. (And if it’s a BFF bust at least you’ve, you know, changed the world and all that.)

The event I worked was at Chicago’s City Farm. It was a lot of weeding, but it felt great to be outside, get dirty, and meet an interesting variety of people. I also got to pick beets—I’m basically a farmer!

One Brick is headquartered in San Francisco and has chapters in DC, Chicago, Indianapolis, St. Paul, New York, Orlando, and Seattle. I don’t do much organization promotion in these parts of the blogosphere, but from my first venture into the One Brick community it seems like something worth sharing, whether you are local-BFF deficient or not.

(My other nametag affair was at a Friday mingler, where a group of strangers came together for an evening of drinks and icebreakers. If you’re a Chicago local, check them out. If you’re not, and are interested in meeting new people, I highly recommend seeking out similar mixers in your city or town. I had no idea how many existed in the Windy City until I started looking. Now I find out about a new one every day. I have to believe the same kind of get-to-know you games are happening in a village near you.)

Have you had a good social experience with a volunteer organization? Feel free to share your cause below.

14 Comments

Filed under The Search

14 responses to “Friending For a Cause

  1. That sounds like a great cause! I wish we had something like that in my neck of the woods!

  2. Oh! I’m going to have to check out One Brick, that sounds great!

  3. Laura

    You’re welcome! Glad you had a good first One Brick event. I just got assigned to coordinate the Kids County Fair at Garfield Park Conservatory next month. Do you care if I share this blog post with One Brick folks? I won’t do anything til you give an okay.

    • Of course! I’d love for you to send it along…

    • re con 4 e il 5 capitolo cabimato ..@destiny 64″oltretutto i titoli su binari sono alla portata di un pubblico decisamente pi vasto che le solite avventure in terza persona.”come ho gi detto il porting di re 4 ha venduto piu’ di uc, ma quali sono le solite avventure in terza persona per wii(si potrebbe anche dire tps vista la piega degli ultimi re)?

  4. Thanks for the shout-out, Rachel! Hope to see you again soon at another One Brick event!

  5. Betty

    One Brick has been trying to start up a new chapter here in the Portland, OR area! It’s been slow going because there are many other competing volunteer organizations out here, but I have become friends with one of the local organizers of the group. That’s been nice. I usually don’t meet many people through volunteer activities only because they are such short stints. After the event is over, I find that the volunteers usually quickly disperse.

  6. Fanfan

    I have volunteered at Institute on Aging. I didn’t meet my bff there, but I certainly had very many days of positive interactions with different people. It is also fun to talk to elderly people. Some of them are surprisingly open when it comes to the talk about death. They would joke about it and say “Honey, you know, people die!” The staff members work like a family. My supervisor even brought his date there once at the lunch break.

    The other time I volunteered at a pre-school. It was a bit stressful. I worked with one of my friends. She was an employee there and I was the volunteer. So it got a bit awkward in the end because she had to fill out a feedback for me. Kids were pretty hard to deal with if you already have a very busy schedule. You don’t just need the time. You have to have the patience and self-control(of not yelling at them after they put their socks in their mouth many many times).

  7. Fanfan

    I have volunteered at Institute on Aging. I didn’t meet my bff there, but I certainly had very many days of positive interactions with different people. It is also fun to talk to elderly people. Some of them are surprisingly open when it comes to the talk about death. They would joke about it and say “Honey, you know, people die!” The staff members work like a family. My supervisor even brought his date there once at the lunch break.

    The other time I volunteered at a pre-school. It was a bit stressful. I worked with one of my friends. She was an employee there and I was the volunteer. So it got a bit awkward in the end because she had to fill out a feedback for me. Kids were pretty hard to deal with if you already have a very busy schedule. You don’t just need the time. You have to have the patience and self-control(of not yelling at them after they put their socks in their mouth many many times). Not sure if it is a good way to meet bffs neither.

  8. Hilariously, I know the founder of the Minglers events. Met her during marathon training in 2001 … the same way I met my maid of honor! Friending, it’s such an interesting journey!

  9. One Brick sounds like a wonderful organization. What a great way to combine friendship and helping your community!

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