Volunteer work in Rotterdam… impossible

A few months ago, during one of my occasional saunters into the public library, I discovered this group called Vrijwilligerswerk Rotterdam. I’ve always wanted to give a little back to the community, but not being a native Dutch speaker makes it more difficult, as most volunteer work calls for teaching Dutch. Besides that, I don’t drive and I don’t fancy venturing too far out of my neighbourhood. So obviously, my reach of available work is pretty small. But this means that it is pretty specific and should make me a near perfect match for anything that I do find.

I found this perfect match while trawling through the openings for volunteer work on their website. It was to help do grocery shopping for old people in the city centre, and only required 2-4 hours a week. This is perfect because: I don’t have to rearrange my schedule for this; I don’t have to speak fluent Dutch; and I like talking to old people. So I wrote to Vrijwilligerswerk Rotterdam to apply for the position. I listed the reasons I would love to help in this activity and why I am a perfect match. It was exactly like applying for a job, I even had to insert my CV!

After nearly an hour crafting a good letter and checking to make sure that I’d covered all bases, I sent it off. I figured I’d get a response within a few days – these foundations are probably understaffed – and maybe I could see them in person so they could gauge if I was a non-dangerous citizen.

After a week, I heard nothing, and as I had sent in the “application” via a form on their website, I didn’t have a direct email address to follow up with. More to the point however, this wasn’t a job where I could further my career or earn money, so it wasn’t high on my priority list to chase them.

It’s been about 6 months and I forgot all about it until early this week, when I saw an ad in the local paper from Voorleesexpress Rotterdam asking for volunteers to read to children from immigrant families who aren’t familiar with Dutch.

Another perfect match for me because: I’m always eager to help people who are less fluent in language since I understand their position; I like children, being the eldest of five; I love books and am always keen to encourage reading.

So I wrote to Voorleesexpress Rotterdam detailing, once more, why I would like to help in this activity and why I am a good match.

To be fair, it’s only been a day since I wrote to them, but not getting any response at all brings me back to the earlier time when I wanted to volunteer my time and energy into helping the community. I mentioned it this morning to Rik, and he got even more bothered by it than I was, and suggested I write a post about how I’ve been trying to reach out to people asking for help, and not getting any response in return.

I don’t know exactly why this is so… I can think of many reasons, some being: I am not Dutch (which is the answer to most questions); they are too understaffed to respond (but how does that answer the 6 months silence of Vrijwilligerswerk Rotterdam?); they have too many responses to their ad (highly unlikely, as the ad is placed in a local paper of limited reach and the neighbourhood is young or affluent, two sections of society who aren’t known to be particularly social-minded with their time).

I actually spend time crafting nice letters detailing my suitability for these volunteer activities, and not getting a response discourages me from applying to future requests.

If anyone else has had this experience, or even the opposite, it would be great to know about it.

Update: Voorleesexpress Rotterdam contacted me regarding volunteering and I went to see them. Unfortunately, during the meeting we realised that my Dutch skills would have to be higher than the level it is currently. The lady was very nice about my wanting to volunteer and even suggested other organisations which might have something for me, less language-reliant. So I’m happy with the response from Voorleesexpress Rotterdam 🙂

I’m on Fiverr

As a freelancer, it’s pretty normal to find yourself not having any paid work to complete, or perhaps you’ve been too efficient and are tapping your fingers while waiting for feedback.

Today, I find myself in such a situation. So I decided to sign up to Fiverr and offer my expert (if I do say so myself) services in proofreading. I just figured that I’d put one of my OCD habits to good use and see if I can help anyone with it.

Here’s why I think I’m brilliant at proofreading:

  • I’ve proofread countless essays from friends, even doing their Masters theses;
  • Spotting mistakes comes naturally to me as someone who has read since four years of age;
  • I spotted a typo on the Olympics live broadcast – “Offical sponsor” (how quickly did you spot that?);
  • I have a genuine interest in reading what others have written.

So I posted my proofreading gig on Fiverr, and while I don’t have high hopes, seeing as proofreading in English is pretty well represented already, I thought it might be fun to just put myself out there. You can find my page here: http://www.fiverr.com/shoobaba

Designing my own party

I don’t think any designer can resist creating the invitations and decorations for their own party. Rik and I just signed our marriage papers at the city hall, so we hosted a party for our friends at our place. I prepared the food together with my party partner, Twinkle Cakes.

Collaborations

I’m fortunate enough to be able to branch out from regular graphic design to try my hand at other artistic activities. One of them is collaborating with local independent baker, Twinkle Cakes. Here’s a shot of our latest work in progress for an Ahoy-themed party.

A challenge every month

I should have named my A Freebie A Month project to A Challenge A Month. Because it really is a challenge trying to think of what my audience might like as a freebie, as well as what I would like to make for fun. The question is also, how much effort do I put into something that I give away for free? The answer is, by the way, the same effort as I would make for something I sell. Because in the end, it’s my name that is attached to these products, and if by some lucky stroke, one of my freebies hits it big on the internet, I wouldn’t want it to be something that is a copycat or lacking in my usual quality.

Anyway, although it’s come late, this is an evergreen category – the gift wrapping category. With Christmas and all sorts of present-giving occasions coming up, gift tags and wraps are going to be in demand. Hence, two gift tag printables in a row! This is my favourite though. Check it out here.

Just delivered!

I have been working on this brochure for the past few weeks. The client and I worked closely to put this together in a very short span of time – and considering the complicated material, I think we did pretty well!

Taking some time out to enjoy my surroundings

It was a rare sunny and warm day yesterday, so I treated myself to a couple of hours outdoors, lying on the grass at the Maasboulevard. I watched ships sail by, a film crew hanging around and trying to look busy, and a big UK touring bus whose tagline is “Get the brochure” (unique, right??). I also dedicated some time to continuing my Coastal Ducks series, and am about halfway finished.

NEW WORK: Poet Farmer website

Now I actually finished this website some months ago, but collecting screenshots of the finished product was so difficult that I kept putting it off. This is one of my personal favourites, because I was able to go beyond what I normally do. Most clients are serious and need a straightforward, informative website. With Poet Farmer, because they’re a creative agency, I could play a little more with colours, dynamic images and different page structures.

So why was it so difficult to make screenshots? Visit the site for yourself. Oh, and allow yourself to sit on a page for at least one or two seconds. You might find an Easter egg 😉

Now offering collections in my webshop!

I”ve decided to experiment with a new strategy in my webshop (go ahead and visit my webshop!).

Although the pricing of my drawings is very reasonable, what I think tends to discourage people (because it would make me hesitate as well) is the postage cost. Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do about that unless I put the cost into the price of the artwork, and I don’t want to do that, because I feel that it’s sort of cheating the customer to claim that there is free delivery when they are in actual fact still paying for it in the item (although it may be a good marketing strategy).

So, instead of offering one print, I’m trying a new strategy of selling in a collection. My first collection is the Monochrome Collection I, which includes my Air Balloon, Glamourous Girl and the geometric Start Somewhere.

If you ever wanted a good deal from my shop, this is for you 🙂

Get it here!