Volunteering: More Room for Men?

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What image pops into your head when you hear the word 'volunteers'? Chances are you picture a woman, which makes sense because most volunteers are female - an offshoot, probably, of the old days when women sought meaningful ways to fill their free time after raising kids.

I have encountered this gender disparity over the years - as a volunteer for the Washington Animal Rescue League and, more recently, in applying to volunteer for the child abuse/neglect prevention group Family Tree. In fact, the volunteer coordinator for Family Tree was particularly excited at my interest because, she said, "We don't have any men" leading the parenting class I am interested in teaching.

To all you dudes that comment carries a message: The volunteering world wants you! Witness also The Gentlemen's Fund, a volunteer/philanthropic hub organized by GQ.  The fund focuses on environmental conservation, fighting hunger, improving education and building better leadership in communities; each category has high-profile corporate and nonprofit sponsors.

The fund also has an ongoing Better Man Better World search, through which people can nominate men who are doing extraordinary things to improve life for the less fortunate. Examples include Gabriel Stauring, of Redondo Beach, Calif., who reordered his entire life to personally bring aid to displaced Sudanese in the camps of Darfur; Ethan Austin, of Chicago, who founded GiveForward, a nonprofit to provide free fundraising pages for people facing crises, like an uninsured person needing cancer treatment; and Sami Rasouli, who returned to his native Iraq in 2003 and was so moved by the disarray there that he started a Muslim Peacemaking Team to work for healing and reconciliation.

The world needs all of us - regardless of age, background and, yes, sex - to work for betterment. To find volunteer opportunities near you, visit Create The Good.

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