September 29th, 2008 Jamie
Volunteering isn’t all soup kitchens and senior living centers-in fact I’m almost daring enough to propose that there is probably a nearly-perfect volunteer opportunity for everyone-but clearly there are probably a few exceptions. : )
Obviously you’ve already been accepted to college, so why should you keep volunteering after high school? Well, if you think about it, it’s kind of a “Win-Win-Win” (to quote Michael Scott).
- Will it help me find my “niche” around here, and help me meet new people? Check.
- Will getting outside of myself and helping other people help me beat homesickness? Check.
- Will it look darn good on my résumé? Check.
See? Win-Win-Win. I’d actually like to throw some more “Win”s in there because there are many, many other benefits of volunteering. Want to give it a shot?
If You Like to Read…
- Reading is Fundamental: Help select books for local programs, organize book events, read books aloud and/or tell stories, fundraise, and raise awareness about children’s literacy.
- LibriVox: Volunteer to read for LibriVox, which provides free downloadable audiobooks of books in the public domain. You can even get a group of people together to read play-style with different voices for each character.
- Read This to Me: Spend an hour or so a week reading things sent in by blind or low-vision people to them over the phone (hey, you’re on your phone all the time anyway, right?). This can be anything from a magazine article to a phone bill.
- Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic®: Record books and/or text books for the blind and dyslexic at one of the many RFBD centers nationwide.
- Local Library: Local libraries are always on the lookout for volunteers to help stock shelves, read at story time, or man summer reading program tables. Contact yours and see if they need any help.
If You Like Working (or Making Art) With Your Hands…
- Habitat for Humanity: Volunteer to help build homes for the needy, either in your own community or in more exotic locales!
- Play Music at a Hospital or Hospice: Many hospitals or hospices offer volunteers the opportunity to play either in their lobby or for their patients. It’s an easy way to share your talent and brighten a few people’s days.
- Be an Arts & Crafts Volunteer: Community, children’s, and elderly programs are a great place to share your love of an art or craft. Search your local area for volunteer opportunities to teach art, sewing, knitting, crochet, or any other art to those around you-and if you can’t find an opportunity, make one!
- Make Baby Blankets: If you like to knit, quilt, sew, or crochet, check with local hospitals and children’s hospitals to see if they accept donations of baby blankets. Many provide blankets to low-income families who may not have much for their babies.
If You’re a People Person (or an Animal Lover):
- Ronald McDonald House: Ronald McDonald houses are a haven for families whose children are in the hospital. You can help out by volunteering in a number of ways: planning events, fundraising, cleaning, hosting game or movie night for the families, or even bringing by treats, snacks, or dinner.
- Holding Babies: Did you know that many hospitals actually have a spot for volunteers who want to hold babies? Many babies born prematurely or abandoned need physical contact during their developmental stages. Contact your local hospital (or children’s hospital) to see if they have a spot for you. (This does tend to have a waiting list… The hospital near my apartment has a wait of 2 years!)
- Big Brothers & Big Sisters: Make a big impact by doing little things-hiking, cooking, playing basketball, or even just hanging out-with a kid who needs a friend. It can be as little as 4 hours a month.
- Animal Shelter/Veterinarian Office: Animal shelters and veterinarian offices are often glad of a helping hand washing and walking animals, cleaning, feeding, etc. Call around your area and see who needs you!
If You Want to Search for Yourself…
- Volunteer Match: Search out volunteer opportunities in your area from a huuuge list!