If you know me you know that I’m a perpetual volunteer. I’ve even added that description to many of my social media accounts. I’m all about supporting organizations that support individuals in need. And in doing so I’ve found that many people look for that one thing that can fulfill them – but sometimes don’t look to volunteering to find it.
So I’m here to offer you a few ideas. A few suggestions if you’re looking for a place to contribute your time, contribute of yourself in a way that means more than just dropping off used household items, your old clothes and sending a check in every few months. Not that these are bad ways to contribute – but sometimes we find ourselves looking for more.
I’d like to offer you just that.
- Help feed someone. Whether you consider yourself a fantastic cook or prefer to help dish out the food instead of make it, there are so many organizations that can use your help. Contact the local food bank. The soup kitchen at your church or synagogue. See if there is a Meals on Wheels in your area. So many people struggle with feeding their families, or even themselves. They could use your assistance. They would love to have you help.
- Become a foster grandparent. Did you even know such a program existed? I didn’t. But I love it! You can volunteer to be a foster grandparent to a child in need of some extra love and support. This program sounds incredible. Foster Grandparents serve from 15 to 40 hours per week in locations including schools, hospitals, juvenile correctional institutions, daycare facilities or Head Start centers. Give of yourself whatever time you have available to give and you’ll make some child oh-so-happy!
- Sign up to be a senior companion. So – you’re a senior, yourself, right? And you’re healthy. You’re independent. You’re doing well. There are many men and women out there who are not doing as well as you are. They’re living on their own and want to be able to remain in their homes, but they need a little assistance. They need an extra hand when grocery shopping or running to a doctor’s appointment. They need a friend. You could be that friend. Look into it. You might be surprised at how important these relationships become to you.
- Head to your local library. Imagine how fun this would be? Find yourself surrounded by books for hours at a time! To me this sounds heavenly. I’m an avid reader and think that being able to assist the local librarian would be a great experience. Offer to help return stray books to their shelves. Volunteer to coordinate and run a children’s story-time. Kids need more people to read to them than they have – reading to children fosters a love of reading in them. Consider starting up a local book club. Books are easy to work with and completely non-stressful.
- Volunteer virtually. You’re a technical genius, aren’t you? Okay, fine, you can find your way around Facebook well enough. That counts for something. Many non-profit organizations need assistance with their social media accounts. Have a look at your favorite organizations – some of them might not have posted on Facebook in months. Years, even. It’s pretty bad – considering one of the top places people search for things these days is, in fact, Facebook. And yes, I kind of just made up that so-called fact, because everyone I know uses it to find local, national and international resources – so I’m pretty sure it’s true. Maybe you can help manage their social media account? Maybe you can post once a day – or a few times a week? Or just offer to assist them by writing a blog post or two about what they have to offer. Trust me. They will happily accept the assist and be extremely grateful.
- Looking for more ideas? Head on over and check out Volunteermatch.org. All you have to do is enter your city or zip code and they will help you find a number of volunteer opportunities in your area.
Volunteering leaves me with an incredible feeling – it reminds me of just how much I have to give – and it reminds me of just how many people can benefit from my help. Find a cause that you’re passionate about and look into local organizations nearby. Nearly any non-profit in your area would surely love an assist in something that interests you.
Do you currently do volunteer work? What sort of organization are you with? Do you have any other ideas I may have overlooked in this post? Please share them with us in the comments!
Andrea Bates is an LCSW who currently volunteers with several postpartum support organizations. She has been volunteering for several decades of her life and finds that giving back in these ways is fulfilling beyond words.