How To Volunteer In Your Community
If you find yourself with extra time and want to give back, volunteering is a great way to do that. No matter your age, or stage in life, becoming a volunteer has many benefits. Not only does it help your community, volunteering helps you personally as well.
How to volunteer
Treat volunteering like you would a paid position. In other words, take the time and effort to do this thoughtfully. Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself.
What causes mean the most to you? There are many nonprofits out there in need of help. What should you spend your time doing? For instance, do you want to help with children’s issues, the environment, or crime prevention? Or maybe something entirely different? You’ll get the most from this experience if you choose a cause for which you are passionate.
What talents or skills can you devote to these causes? Think about the experience you already have to bring to a movement. Consider making a checklist or a resume just for volunteer opportunities. This will not only help you categorize your strengths, but also allow the organizations to see if there is a good fit for someone with your background.
How many hours per week can you devote to an organization? Be honest with yourself when assessing how much time you have for this endeavor. Think about other responsibilities at work, home and in your free time that are just as important.
What are the volunteer opportunities in your community? If you’re aware of local organizations, and interested in volunteering for them, take a look at their websites. Some might even have the positions listed. There are other national sites, too, that list opportunities for a variety of charities.
What are the details of these positions? Look over the volunteer responsibilities and descriptions. Make sure you’re the right person for the job.
Places that need help
Almost any nonprofit can use assistance. Many will ask you to determine the kind of help you want to provide. So here are just a few ideas:
Homeless shelters, food pantries and soup kitchens for clothing donation, food preparation, administrative service and clean-up. Soup kitchens are always looking for volunteers to help serve food and cook meals. For some people, meals served by volunteers at these organizations may be the only food they have for the day.
Religious organizations and houses of worship usually host a variety of activities throughout the year. For example, you can help with services, meals, carnivals or mission trips.
Retirement communities, palliative care and assisted living facilities need respite or elder care and companioning. Unfortunately, many of our elderly neighbors are dying of loneliness. Read, sit, walk or just talk with them. Simple companionship brightens their day and also helps them stay healthier.
Libraries need help organizing bookshelves, hosting reading events and assisting visitors. Create a summer reading program to help children avoid learning loss. You can also donate books, for all reading levels, that you no longer use.
Check out local volunteer boards on social media
Schools would love for you to help as tutors, crosswalk monitors and aides. From elementary through high school, you will find schools in need of help. Some volunteers enjoy reading books with kindergartners while others prefer working the concession stands during football games. There is something for everyone.
Summer Camp allows you to devote time to a great cause and have fun, too. As a volunteer, you can work outside helping to coach a team or supervise activities. On the other hand, if you want to work inside, consider helping at lunchtime, lending your expertise to enrichment activities or projects in the afternoon.
Animal shelters for fostering, animal care and/or administrative help. Helping to walk or domesticate animals makes it more likely they’ll be successfully adopted.
Register people to vote. Many civic or political organizations need your help registering and mobilizing voters. Power to the people!
Hospitals can’t function properly without a strong army of volunteers. You don’t have to be a nurse or doctor to help out in a medical environment. For example, you can entertain patients and take their minds off troubles. From babies who need to be rocked in the NICU to hospice patients in need of company – all ages benefit from the healing powers of connection.
Home building organizations for construction help, repairs, and cleaning. Groups like Habitat for Humanity serve millions of families in need of safe shelter. They also have offices in many cities and small towns.
Donate blood and organize local drives in your area. This is often an urgent need so you can easily spread the word on social media. Many businesses and schools might also be interested in hosting mobile donation centers. They just need someone to take charge and make it happen. You can be that person!
Environmental causes abound in every area. Parks or beaches, for instance, are in desperate need of trash removal. What about a local recycling drive? Organize people to adopt an area of the highway to clean each month. Or perhaps get everyone you know together to plant some trees or raise money to combat beach erosion.
Some people find it fun and meaningful to pick a cause from above and plan a yearly fundraising event. For instance, how about a fancy gala? Or maybe gather some active friends and organize a 5k run. Either way you’ll be helping a worthy cause and having fun at the same time.
Benefits of giving your time to a good cause
- You’re helping to support causes that make your community a better place to live.
- Volunteers can learn valuable skills to add to a resume.
- Supporting families, animals, schools or nonprofits enriches lives.
- You’ll make friends with similar values.
- You’re gaining worthwhile experience.
In conclusion, volunteering is one of those activities that benefits everyone involved. How many things can we say that about?
Improve your own outlook on life, make friends and help strangers, all by giving back to your community. Volunteer your time today.