Online Community Service

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Online community service websites are available all over the World Wide Web to help people find places to volunteer and get involved in activities and causes to make one's neighborhood a better place to live. Many people live such busy lives in the 21st century that hunting down places to serve that fit one's interests and goals may be difficult to do. Thus the proliferation of websites that assist people in discovering volunteering opportunities has been pronounced in recent years. Some websites are just matchmaker types of websites. These sites take ones interests and match specific interests and skills with particular neighborhood and volunteer organizations. Other sites are already specific in interest, and show opportunities only for the site's own causes.

Many websites exists to help match people to volunteer opportunities. A person can find online community service websites that list thousands of organizations all over the country looking for help from people willing to donate a few hours or days each month. Finding volunteer opportunities can be as easy as typing in a location and a few keywords before exciting unpaid jobs helping other people will appear on the computer monitor. Some websites enable searchers to actually look at profiles of specific volunteers, looking at pictures and profiles, helping those considering the possibility of volunteering to decide more easily. These profiles are uplifting and encouraging, often giving people the incentive to try out unpaid jobs with neighborhood or non-profit agencies.

Many people say that when a company or corporate entity endorses a particular non profit or volunteer opportunity, it is an incentive to participate also. Many online community service websites that help match up those who want to do unpaid tasks to help their neighborhoods with specific opportunities can also help corporations with their desire to do get involved. Online service websites that help individuals can also provide corporations with the tools needed to get started in their volunteer efforts. Over the years, corporations have found involvement in large community volunteering efforts to be a public relations coup. Consequently, the more help that online community service website providers can help corporations kickoff their volunteering efforts, the more success will be enjoyed by all. Many online community service websites can offer event management tools that can help corporate volunteer administrators with keeping track of employee hours and various job responsibilities.

The culture of corporate America is changing as Gen Y becomes more entrenched as the new face of American worker. Recent surveys suggest that over ninety-five percent of all Gen Yr's want their own companies to offer opportunities to volunteer in neighborhood and societal betterment programs. For instance, many companies are now providing volunteer opportunities on January 19th, Martin Luther King Day. While it is a federal holiday, online community service websites are encouraging companies not to make it a day off but a day on, with employees spending their day involved in community betterment projects. Many people have the mistaken idea that doing good works such as volunteering and giving money to humanitarian causes helps God to see their worthiness for heaven. But the Bible is very clear about this issue: people are qualified for heaven by God's grace and mercy through faith in Christ and not through any works that they perform. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God not of works lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2: 8,9)

When one thinks of volunteer service, the things that come to mind typically are painting, rehabbing houses, tutoring, building parks and other hands on projects. But the term online community service may also mean doing work on the Internet that provides help to other also. People who can do Internet work at home can do volunteer work such as finding information for an agencies newsletter, providing professional consulting for a non-profit agency, writing a speech, a white paper, helping with advocacy issues, translating a document into another language or perhaps doing a multimedia project for a community presentation. But there are even more ideas for online community service such as, designing and editing a newsletter, designing an agency logo, writing a marketing plan for a non-profit agency seeking federal funding, providing web mastering expertise for an agency website, doing email campaigns and many other opportunities. Volunteers can even host online forums for discussion groups that may meet regularly to talk about various struggles people may be having with disease, poverty, lack of training opportunities, etc.

The advent of the Internet is now giving people the opportunity to volunteer in ways never considered before. It has been said that America's new currency is time, with less and less of it available for people to relax and pursue hobbies and neighborhood improvement projects. But the opportunity to such unpaid work for community betterment through the use of the World Wide Web has now made such chances a reality. In fact, many citizens who are physically disabled and unable to participate in on-site projects can now find the same satisfaction of helping struggling fellow humans just as the more physically able when hammering nails or blowing in insulation. It also means that those who decide the heavy responsibility of directing school or corporate or church volunteer programs can have a wider pool of volunteering prospects from which to cull. Making the Internet a useful tool will prove to be a boon for future generations of people who want to make a difference in someone's life.

Online Virtual Community

An online virtual community can provide connection and recreation opportunities to avid Internet users. Online communities have been popular since their inception in the mid 1990's. Websites that are geared toward forging connections and aiding communication among physically separated participants provide the gathering places for this kind of activity. Whether the central attraction of the community is based on social or business concerns, the ability to connect via the world wide web has proven to be a valuable advantage. The possibilities of reaching out as well as hearing back from potential friends is appealing to many participants. Some of these communities may center on a specific hobby or interest while others may simply be social in nature. But the power to gather and commune, even through electronic means touches on a very central human need. The benefits of communities of this nature can be many. Not only can participants exchange valuable information and build connections, opportunities to interact through various forums and blogs as well as online games, polls, and quizzes will often attract multitudes of visitors to a popular social networking website. However, with all of the positives, there can be negatives. There is no way to assure that fellow participants are behaving in honorable ways. While the Internet certainly offers many connection possibilities, the ability to mislead and misrepresent is also widespread. An awareness of this fact, along with following a few rules of Internet safety can help to make participating in an online virtual community a positive experience. Of course, the level of both participation and enjoyment is largely up to the individual user and the effort and attitude that they choose to adopt.

The reasons for becoming part of an online virtual community can vary. For some, socialization is the top priority. When this is the case, account holders may create a personal profile page that reflects their own basic biographical information along with photographs and other graphic elements. A list of friends who also participate on a particular site may be featured on this profile page along with an area for friends to post comments and send messages. Social networking websites may also offer chat rooms, bulletin boards, and forums to users. Companies may also wish to create communities via the Internet to augment any work or projects that require the collaboration of various employees. Online work groups can be very helpful in creating efficient employee teams. Community groups can also connect via the Internet. Local sports teams and their boosters can communicate more efficiently through the use of an online virtual community. Schools systems may also wish to take advantage of this technology to keep staff and personnel well connected and informed. Those interested in a specific topic might also enjoy the connectivity tools that the web offers. Websites that center on certain subjects such as politics, shared experiences, religious matters or hobbies abound on the world wide web. Relationship websites specialize in helping participants seek out and become acquainted with potential romantic partners are available as well. As with sites that are simply platonic in nature, these sites present opportunities to take advantage of various profiles, chat rooms, emails, and forums. Such communities offer many connection possibilities.

Creating an online virtual community will require focus and planning. What is the basic purpose that will drive the website? Does the site have a specific goal in mind? What kind of web traffic will feel at home in this community? There are a number of different kinds of tools that can be utilized to provide opportunities for interaction within these communities. Selecting and implementing these tools is an important part of building an online virtual community. The structure of the site as well as the best way to facilitate communication are also important concerns. Once the site has been built, the webmaster must set about the task of drawing web traffic to the site and fostering communication among these visitors. Participants in these communities will usually operate at a variety of levels. Peripheral users will simply visit the site from time to time. They may not participate in any kind of chat room or forum, but simply observe the activity that is taking place. Some visitors may never move beyond this point. But there will be some who take the next step and cautiously enter into a discussion here and there. Regular users will have overcome any shyness and will interact with other users and contribute to the community on a steady basis.

Many participants will turn to an online virtual community to enjoy a sense of recreation and fun. In addition to valuable information and interaction with other participants, many websites offer games that members can play with each other. While the Internet is famous for the entertainment possibilities that it offers to users, online communities can provide entertainment value as well. These communities draw in many participants out of purely recreational motives. According to the Bible, God is a source of strength and protection for believers. "The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe." (Proverbs 18:10)

Leaders of an online virtual community will most likely be participants as well. Generally, leaders will not take the aloof approach of the overseer, but will join in the communication. Of course, if the identity of the leader is known, as is frequently the case, this member's contributions will merit special note. At the same time, it is the leader's responsibility to monitor activity and make any necessary corrections. What ever role a participant might take, connecting via these communities can be very gratifying.



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