OFFBEAT: Help!

SANDUSKY Jobs are harder to find these days than VHS copies of "Tommy Boy" (one of the few
Cory Frolik
May 24, 2010

 

SANDUSKY

Jobs are harder to find these days than VHS copies of "Tommy Boy" (one of the few films set in Sandusky -- as if you didn't know).

The lines of job applicants that formed at Menards could rival those found at Cedar Point during the summer months.

Unable to find employment, some people simply give up.

They resign themselves to spending their days on the couch watching mindless television or doing something equally as unhelpful (practicing a Chris Farley impression, possibly).

This is not the right attitude to adopt.

Granted, job hunting in this market is frustrating. But getting back to work doesn't necessarily require a job.

Volunteering is a great way to boost the spirits while simultaneously giving back to the community and avoiding getting rusty in the skills department, said Gabriele Beck, executive director of The Volunteer Center of Erie County.

"It's also a way of learning some new skills," Beck said. "And people tell me it gives them a purpose and something to think about."

Sprawling on the couch might be consoling at times, but it doesn't translate into resume fodder.

And Beck said volunteering not only looks good to potential employers, it also provides them with solid references.

Besides, even gluttons for punishment can't stomach daytime television forever.

The Volunteer Center has already received numerous calls from unemployed people who could no longer bear the crushing monotony of couch potatodom.

Sitting at home day after day, week after week, wears on a person -- makes them go stir crazy. Fed up, some people make the wise choice to pick up the phone, calling Beck and making a commitment to lending a hand.

Unlike many jobs, the work is not thankless.

Many volunteer opportunities exist to help the elderly or children. Both of these groups usually drum up a few words of thanks.

Even if the work doesn't lead to thanks -- and even if it isn't rewarding -- the knowledge gained from the experience can be useful. Volunteering is a good way to test-drive a career path.

"Hey, you could find something to do outside to find out if you like working outside," Beck said.

Say you find working out in the elements uncomfortable and irritating -- then maybe a career in landscaping isn't right for you, after all.

The sad thing is that as the economy deteriorates, some people volunteer less.

Only about 9 percent of people surveyed in mid-March by The Harris Poll reported volunteering more because of the recession. With the need greater than ever, the benevolent spirit of the public is headed into hibernation.

Well, here's the wake-up call.

The Sandusky State Theatre needs ushers. The Erie County Humane Society needs helpers. And the Erie County Senior Center's Meals on Wheels needs drivers.

The Chris Farley impressions can wait.

Your community needs you. Hop to it.