Volunteering at the right locations can give you access to some opportunities you could never find otherwise. Sure, it makes you feel really good when you are doing nice things for our community. However, you’ll feel even better when you get a viral video under your belt and you become a YouTube sensation. We have hundreds of volunteer opportunities in Sarasota, so just pick one, pack your camera and donate your time to a good cause.
1) Cat Depot: The granddaddy of viral internet sensations is the cat. More specifically, the cat doing something rad — and by “rad,” I mean catch a cat doing anything (including sleeping) and you’re probably golden. Sarasota, we actually have a non-profit that’s a concrete box filled to the brim with cats who need human playmates. It’s called Cat Depot, and it’s the only thing you’re going to need to go viral. I’ve visited Cat Depot, so let me be the first to say it’s a gold mine of opportunity. Really! Take a look at this and tell me you’re not going to share this post. Just try not to forward this on Facebook. You can’t; it’s impossible. The power of kitty GIFs are scientifically proven to make you hit the share button. Take this a-damn-dorable cat in a tin can as an example:
The Cat Depot interior is a wall-to-wall condominium of cats who live better than we do, perched peacefully in front of TVs (that is not a joke — they actually have TVs) and jungle gyms. As a volunteer you are handed a laser pointer(!) and a staff member tells you it’s your job to keep these adorable fur balls entertained. Tell me this place is not set up for internet success! Volunteer by clicking here and don’t forget the camera.
2) Wine, Women and Shoes: 40 Carrots is probably one of my favorite charities in Sarasota. They do amazing work by solidifying families, and in order to do all that work, they have to throw a couple of parties every year to raise money. One of those parties is called “Wine, Women and Shoes,” and it’s one of the “it” parties of the season. It’s held in the middle of the afternoon at the Ritz Carlton and here’s the premise for the day: Women from all walks of life adorn the halls of the Ritz in their hottest high heels. They are handed wine, then some more wine and then a little more wine just before they gather for an amazing lunch prepared by the Ritz Carlton culinary team — which includes, of course, more bottles of wine.
Strapping men from the community (such as Wayne Rollins and everyone’s second-favorite gay, George Capello from Blackbird Home Gallery) show off high heels and bottles of wine on silver platters to the women. Vacations are auctioned and shoes are sold to screaming ladies with purple-stained teeth … and then they drink more wine. By the end of the day the Ritz Carlton halls are filled, yet again, with ladies in high heels, who are now wobbling and looking for even more fun — so they head to the bar for (you guessed it) more wine. That, my friends, is where you’re going to obtain your viral video. Volunteer with them by clicking here
3) Sarasota Film Festival: When you animate a celebrity and throw him or her on the internets, the entire world squeals with delight. And everyone knows when you have a screaming world of happy people, you probably have a killer video gone wild (and world peace). Hmmmm, where in Sarasota could we find a celebrity? I suggest volunteering at the Sarasota Film Festival for the true pool of celebrities. The SFF, led by our favorite technology know-it-all/real estate developer/philanthropist Mark Famiglio is a hotbed of awesome celebrities. Have you ever seen Gary Busey scream drunkenly and belligerently at the top of his lungs? I have, and it was at the Sarasota Film Fest. Have you ever seen Edward Norton beat the pants off of local Sarasotans in poker? How about Elijah Wood kicking it with locals at The Shamrock for karaoke? I’ve seen it all and it was because I volunteered with the SFF. The SFF is a week in Sarasota when anything goes. People party all week, people go to jail (just ask our former Blonde Out Of Water ,who confirmed I was allowed to poke fun at her) and most of all Sarasota has access to amazing films and artists, thanks to the stellar staff of programmers.
a.) Come up with an awesome viral video idea.
b.) Pitch it to the celebrity.
c.) Have them star in it and you will be a viral video sensation like Drunk History.
4) Florida Winefest: Florida Winefest is AMAZING! Every year wine-loving Sarasotans gather in different locales throughout our sunny city and sip on wonderful wines from boutique vineyards. Every single penny made off of this three-day event is donated to local children’s charities. Winefest has donated millions of dollars to help kids become amazing adults and also helps buy school supplies, food and even shelter for families in our area. When you help kids, you are helping strengthen the future of our community and that’s awesome for everyone. Plus, when there are kids around you get the potential for awesome viral videos. To volunteer with Winefest click here.
5) Humane Society or Southeastern Guide Dogs: Although cats rule the internet, dogs come in at a close number two when it comes to internet fun. Imagine the internet’s delight when you fill your Facebook feeds with the rip-roaring awesomeness that only dogs can provide. Plus, if you spend one hour volunteering not only will you have some killer videos like this, but you will also be donating about $22 of value per hour to the organization. These organizations do much good for our community, so taking some time to walk a dog who’s eventually going to be a companion for the visually impaired is a pretty important job — and it’s easy. Just do it because I promise it will warm your heart and keep your metaphorical (we hope) tail wagging.
6) Lemur Perserve: Um, did you know we have one of these and that they accept volunteers? Well, we do. Imagine my surprise when I found out about this super unique preserve located on the outskirts of our community. Wait, you don’t have to imagine my surprise because I have a GIF that illustrates it perfectly! Wanna show them some love? Click here.
7) Big Cat Habitat: Big Cat Habitat is not only home to big cats but it also has monkeys, birds and other amazing animals. Can you say “OMG, I can’t wait to fill your Facebook feed with time-wasting videos?” Well, Sarasota, I don’t have to give too much detail here except to say if you like this little lions learning to roar or exotic birds dancing to Lada Gaga, this just may be your one stop shop for you to be a viral sensation.