Community Service Volunteers
There are many ways to give back to your community, whether through financial donations or through donating items from your home. One of the best ways, however, is to donate your time. You can do this through becoming a community service volunteer.Talk to others who have done volunteer work and ask them to share their experiences or to recommend an organization.
If you don't know anyone who has volunteered their time, simply browse online or in the Yellow Pages under the type of service you're interested in to learn more about oorganizations you have heard of. Then, call and ask if they need helpers and let them know what your skills are and what you are willing to do to help. In many cases, a degree of some kind or some education in a particular field is needed, but oftentimes not. Nonprofit organizations often just need an extra pair of hands to complete regular administration or manual labor tasks.
Volunteering not only benefits an organization that needs concerned citizens like you, but as a volunteer, you are also rewarded. Think about how good you'll feel, having spent the day doing something to assist others. You'll understand your community better and will feel part of something larger.
Before you rush off to volunteer, think about your skills and interest. Do you like animals, or are you more of a people person? Would you want to volunteer with the elderly or younger people? Also, what are your time constraints, if you have any? How much time are you going to be able to devote to helping out each week? Take these thoughts into consideration, in order to help narrow your choices and to help in the decision making process.
Animal Shelters and Clinics
If you love animals, look no further than this rewarding volunteer experience. Local animal shelters save thousands of animals a year from sickness and death by providing medical assistance and shelter for animals in need. They are always in need of volunteer assistance. Animal shelters save abused pets and farm animals, wildlife, dogs raised in "puppy mills" under unsuitable conditions and animals that have been raised to fight.
Spay and neuter clinics are growing, and they help to keep the pet population down by providing a low rate for people to keep pets and strays from producing more unwanted liters. They may need front office help or assistance with making surgery kits, washing towels and assisting with fundraisers and other events.
What can you do at a shelter? Well, you can do many things, from stuffing envelopes to helping with fundraising, and even helping clean out cages, perhaps even writing a newsletter or exercising and watering and feeding animals. To find shelters in which to volunteer in your community, search the Yellow Pages or Internet under "animal shelter" in your area.
If you're a member of a church, simply speak to your minister or priest to found out if there ways that you can chip in. The church may have after-school programs for kids where you can offer assistance, a fundraiser that you can help with or they may even have annual mission trips to other cities, states or countries to offer their resources and service to those outside the congregation. Some ways your help might be appreciated through church volunteering is by volunteering in the choir, working in the archives, food drives and pantries, child care, housekeeping, tutoring and teaching Sunday school.
Helping out at youth organizations can be particularly interesting. Some kids come from challenging backgrounds and family situations, so these organizations help them feel as if they belong and they get much needed attention and socialization. If you like kids, this is a great way to donate your time. There is the Boys and Girls Club, which works with kids who often find themselves without supervision and in the streets. It offers leadership and growth opportunities, with programs pertaining to sports and fitness, education and career and activities in the arts.
There's also the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, which has been around for more than a century. This group offers one-to-one mentoring for children aged six through 18 and has operations in all 50 states and 12 countries worldwide. You can volunteer your time by doing activities with a "mentee", who the organization matches you with. With a Little Brother or Sister, you might try learning to cook, playing board games, visiting fun places in the city like the zoo or art museum, even just hanging out and talking.
Boy and Girl Scouts may also need volunteers. Founded in 1910, the Boy Scouts of America has more than a million members. Units are run by volunteers. Contact a chapter leader to find out how you can be of help, then if you're able, attend a meeting to find out if it's a good fit.
Retirement homes sometimes need volunteers to help with many different tasks from administrative to active. For instance, they might need volunteers to teach an art, knitting or yoga class. Maybe you can teach a class in computer basics or emailing. Perhaps you have an entertaining talent that you can share--play the piano or other instrument or sing? The retirement community may need volunteers to plant flowers or trees or upkeep the grounds. If you have a driver's license and safe driving record, maybe you can volunteer to drive residents to the store or to activities off the grounds. Contact you local retirement home and find out how you can contribute.
Homeless and unemployed people need a hot meal, and sometimes soup kitchens are the only way they can mange to to get a healthy meal. People from all different backgrounds volunteer at soup kitchens, who often need people to help serve food in a food line, handout beverages, clean off tables or floors and greet visitors. Volunteers are especially needed during the holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving. Search the Internet or Yellow Pages to find a soup kitchen in your area. Then call and find out what days and times they serve food, and ask if they need volunteers.
Some volunteer organization need hands-on workers to help erect homes and other buildings. Habitat for Humanity, which has been around since 1976, is one such organization. They are a nonprofit Christian organization that creates housing for those in need in countries all over the world. Volunteer labor is very much needed for such organizations. Volunteers typically need to be of a certain age, and often there are ways to help with no construction background or previous experience needed.
With more than 400 national parks in the United States, there are sure to be ways that you can help. National Historic Sites, historic battlefields, scenic trails, monuments and seashores need people to help. Different volunteer tasks might include conservation efforts, assisting visitors, leading walks, interpreting, administrative tasks, monitoring animals responding to information requests from visitors. Volunteers are assigned to specific site, but may also contribute with outreach programs, clean-ups or assist in fairs. There are so many kinds of tasks and ways to contribute, and still be surrounded by natural beauty and history.
Have an interest in art? Some museums hire docents to lead tours through the museum. These volunteers learn about the art in the museum and are able to convey information about the collection or a special exhibit to a group of visitors. They need to have a deep knowledge of the art or exhibit, and often must be 18 years old. Usually a docent commits to volunteer for a specific period of time, perhaps up to two years, and goes through an initial training session. The tours they give can vary depending on the visitors they are leading, but they tend to last usually no longer than two hours.
Other jobs for volunteers who want to work in a museum include greeting visitors, clerical activities such as transcribing, and behind-the-scenes work in assisting curators. If you love art and want to know more, this is one of the greatest ways to get in on the ground floor.
Book lovers can find a home volunteering at their local libraries. Some of the duties that might be expected of a library volunteer include shelf readers, who make make sure books are in order, assisting with programs in the children's section or with crafts, creating displays and helping others get Internet and catalog access. The library may also have special events, such as a Summer reading program.
Certain governmental organizations take volunteers. For instance, the Americorps in a governmental organization that helps meet a community's needs in environmental, public safety, education and human needs. For instance, volunteers may help teach illiterate adults to read or to help people who never graduate from highschool to obtain their GED. Volunteers work in a specified time period, for one or two years, and often get a small living allowance and an educational award. the educational award may be used to pay toward existing college loans or to use toward future education.
You can also become a federal election volunteer. Voting centers need volunteers during elections. These volunteers help voters understand the ballots and the voting equipment. For these types of jobs, you need to be a registered voter and typically of a certain age. If you belong to a certain political party, or are curious to know more about them, it might be helpful to volunteer for a party office or even for a candidate. The offices need support with calling registered voters, delivering voting material and fliers, stuffing envelopes and other tasks. To learn more about these kinds of volunteer opportunity, contact your local election office.
Other oorganizations that provide programs with opportunities for community volunteer work include the ARMY Corps of Engineers Volunteers clearinghouse and the EPA's Water Quality Monitoring Program.
Medical or Emergency field
In the old days, hospital volunteers were known as "candy stripers," for the red-and-white-striped uniforms of female volunteers. This is one of the oldest forms of volunteering in the United States. You don't need to be female or even wear a striped outfit these days, but there are ways to help out at the local medical center.
First, you'll want to call hospitals in your area to see if they take volunteers. Jobs for medical volunteers might include clerical support, lab technician assistant, gift shop worker, customer service and emotional care. Hospices often need volunteers to visit with patients Don't forget that children's hospitals may also need volunteers to interact with sick children or to oversee play areas. Health and background checks are not unusual with volunteer hospital jobs, and an orientation is required.
The American Red Cross is one of the oldest volunteer organizations in the country, It's been around since 1881 and provides disaster relief in both large and small communities. The Red Cross is very widespread and can be found in more than 700 locally supported chapters. It's the largest supplier of blood in the country. One of easiest ways to help out is by donating blood, which is always needed for emergency services. Donate your time and your fluids to help vital causes.
Opportunities for Teens
Teenagers who want to get involved in their communities can also volunteer. Research local hospitals, retirement homes, churches, civic centers and environmental groups to see how old volunteers must be. Figure out what skills you can offer and what task you are willing to learn. Programs such as Friends of VISTA, and the International Youth exchange are all sources that you can look into to help your teen help others. It's never too early to get involved in your community; it's a great way to learn, gain experience and have fun.