"By volunteering, I now feel like I am actively involved in my own community and am a small part of what makes this City great."
Representative Payee, Alexandria Community Services Board
Q: How did you first get involved with this organization and begin volunteering?
I actually made a New Year’s resolution to become more involved in my community. I thought it would be difficult to hold down a full-time job and still volunteer, but I was wrong! There are many opportunities to volunteer in Alexandria that can be done around your work schedule.
Q: Why did you choose to be a part of this particular organization?
I worked closely with representatives and treatment professionals from the mental health community in a previous job, and I was hoping to build on that previous experience. So, I researched the City’s website and was able to learn more about the Community Services Board and the City’s Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation, and Substance Abuse. When I learned that there were volunteer opportunities with the Community Services Board, I thought that it would be a perfect fit- and I was right!
Q: How long have you been volunteering?
I have been volunteering since March 2009.
Q: How many hours per week or month do you volunteer?
It depends. As a representative payee, when you are first assigned a client you will need to spend about an hour initially to meet with officials from the Social Security Administration to be recognized as the payee, and then you need to establish a bank account for your client. But once that is done, you simply pay the bills that come in, and that can usually be done in an hour or two each month.
Q: What do your volunteer duties involve?
As a representative payee, I am responsible for managing the Social Security benefits of people who receive services from the Community Services Board and are unable to manage their own finances. For example, once I am assigned a client, I meet with the Social Security Administration to become recognized as the client’s representative payee, and then I open a bank account on behalf of the client. I work with the client’s case manager to learn what bills the client has, and then I manage the funds in the client’s account. I also work with the client’s case manager to develop a budget for monthly spending money that is sent to the client so that he or she can pay for any incidental expenses that arise.
Q: What is the best part of volunteering at this organization?
The best part of volunteering with the Community Service Board is knowing that I am helping some of our community’s most vulnerable residents. I have lived in Alexandria for over 15 years and have taken advantage of many of the wonderful opportunities that the City has to offer its residents, but I realized that I had not done much in return. By volunteering, I now feel like I am actively involved in my own community and am a small part of what makes this City great!
Q: What have you learned from your volunteer experience?
I have learned that it does not take much time to help others in need- and that a little effort on your part, can make a big difference in someone else’s life.
Q: What would you recommend for others who want to get more involved in the community through volunteer work?
I would recommend taking some time to find out what interests you, and then contacting the City’s agency that best matches your interests. From there, you can work together to find a way for you to volunteer.