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Volunteer Right for Your Type

Are you Room Mom material or more of a book fair coordinator? Maybe you just want to show up for an hour once in a while. Volunteering at your child’s school can seem overwhelming and inconvenient when you’re not in the right spot. If you’re not sure how best to serve, consider your personality first. Given the right role for your traits and talents, pitching in can be painless, and even fun! Use these broad personality types to help you decide where and how to plug in.

The Charismatic

You are a fun, outgoing extrovert who easily bored when not working toward a goal. You can accomplish anything you set your mind to but you tend to take on too many projects. Your spontaneity, creativity and energy attract many requests of your time. You have great ideas but prefer others to take care of the details. Offer to brainstorm at the beginning of projects. You may want to then step away from planning. Let those in charge know that you are happy to show up as a charming worker bee, and to recruit others to do the same.

The Born Leader

You live for systems and processes, sometimes to the alienation of the people helping you carry out your plans. You are analytical, logical and you despise repeating yourself. Your best friend is an online organizer, like www.volunteerespot.com, where you can coordinate armies of parents without actually speaking to them or engaging in endless, mind-numbing chain of Reply-All emails. You are a great leader, so long as you can get people to follow. (Team up with The Charismatic for best results!)

The Perfectionist

You can’t help that you know how to do things better than other people do. It’s how you’re wired. While you can be empathetic, compassionate and cooperative, you also struggle with indecision and the inability to focus if things aren’t going your way. You like leadership roles, but need to remember to delegate. Teams rely on your consistent calm and a somewhat detached demeanor that values getting the job done over any kind of committee-meeting drama. Lead if you must, but also consider taking roles with fewer responsibilities, because you’re probably wearing a lot of hats.

The Natural

You love structure, schedules and routines, and are strongly attached to your culture and your family. You like to do things the right way and you don’t like distractions. Persistent and patient, you are not easily bored and, therefore, do not abandon projects you’ve committed to. Your skill with managing people and your need to belong make you an ideal fit for any volunteer spot that requires many hands to get the work done. However, because you are sensitive and your work is your reward, you tend to avoid attention for your good works. When it’s time to promote your fundraiser or event, embrace social media and pair with a big talker!

Lela is the mother of two teenagers and the author of two collections of irreverent essays about motherhood and the modern family, Blacklisted from the PTA and Who Peed on My Yoga Mat? She is a charismatic type and a recovering reluctant volunteer. Lela’s thoughts on marriage, motherhood and life after 40 have appeared in hundreds of magazines, websites and anthologies.

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