Ramsey Raybeck is a native Nashvillian, who has enjoyed her career working with multiple nonprofits in the areas of volunteer management, fundraising, and special events. Currently, she is the Donor Relations Manager at Hands On Nashville, Middle Tennessee’s volunteer resource center that connects volunteers with service opportunities. Ramsey volunteers her time with the therapeutic horseback riding program, Saddle Up!, the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (Tennessee Chapter), and is a member of the Junior League of Nashville. She also enjoys spending time with her husband Chris, 10-month old daughter Clarke, and goofy lab Houston.

Q: I’ve never volunteered before and I don’t think I have much to offer. Do I need certain skills to help?

A: You will be surprised how easy it is to make a big difference by volunteering. Many nonprofits are in need of people to do many different kinds of jobs and will carefully outline what you will be doing and the skills they prefer. Volunteer opportunities can be as simple as serving meals to the homeless and picking up trash at a park or waterway, or as complex and involved as organizing a special event or tutoring children on an ongoing basis. Volunteering is a great way to share skills you do have and maybe try something new and different. On the Hands On Nashville website, you can create a member account and indicate any special skills or interests you have. You can then search for volunteer opportunities that are appealing to you and fit your skill-set.

Each person has a unique set of skills he or she brings to the table, and it is wonderful when those skills match up with the right volunteer opportunity. Most important to having a meaningful volunteer experience is to find something you are passionate about and get involved.

Q: My time is so limited with my kids and my work, but I still want to help. How do I find volunteer projects that I can do?

A: Hands On Nashville’s goal is to make volunteering easy for everyone to fit into their busy schedules, so we offer projects with varying commitment levels. You can volunteer as much or as little as you like based on your time and interest. The Project Calendar at www.hon.org allows you to search by date and time, as well as by interest areas like hunger, homelessness, at-risk youth, and seniors in need. Some projects are available on a recurring basis, such as sorting food every Tuesday evening at the local food bank, and there are one-time special events like cleanup and landscaping projects in local schools on fall Saturdays. There are projects available during the week and on weekends and evenings. You can find just about any type of opportunity, and signing up is as easy as clicking a mouse.

Q: Why should I volunteer?

A: Volunteering is a great way to help others and give back to your community.You will feel terrific knowing you have made a real difference, and with many projects, the results of your hard work are easily visible. Volunteering provides opportunities for learning more about a particular issue and can give you a different perspective. By volunteering, you can interact and connect with new people that are equally passionate about helping others and have similar interests.

Have a question for our expert? This line is open until Friday, October 14th. Our expert will then answer the top questions and we’ll post their answers right here and on our Facebook page.