With a full family life and busy career, it can be easy to let community service remain on our “to-do” list. However, the recent tragedies in Boston (Newtown and West, Texas) have given us all a good reason to take a step back and reflect on serving others in their time of need.
How to Get Started Volunteering
- Not sure where to begin? Visit volunteermatch.org. This site pairs your location and keywords with current volunteer opportunities. You can also search based on age group (to get your children involved) or by specific cause area. You may also wish to inquire about volunteer opportunities at your local church, synagogue or parish.
- Prepare and provide a meal to a family in need. If you enjoy cooking, put it to good use by making a special meal for others. Your local Ronald McDonald House welcomes home-cooked meals to families returning from a long day at the hospital (see their “30 Ways to Help in 30 Days” article here). Another fabulous opportunity to reach out to the elderly in your community is to volunteer at Meals on Wheels in your area. Often the woman or man you are delivering a meal to looks forward to the short visit of companionship more than they do the meal. It’s definitely a win-win.
- Donate. Red Cross is always in need of blood donations. Get a group together from your office or church and contact your local chapter about hosting a blood drive. During your Spring cleaning, drop unwanted items off at your neighborhood Goodwill. In 2011, Goodwill helped more than 4.2 million people train for careers and get the supporting services they needed to be successful (via Goodwill.org).
- Use your hands. Habitat for Humanity has a variety of programs, one of which is “Women Build,” created for women who want to learn construction skills and build homes and communities. Women Build brings together women from all walks of life to address the housing crisis facing millions of women and children worldwide. No experience is necessary! Habitat also offers short term volunteer trips, youth programs, veteran builds and much more. Details at http://www.habitat.org/getinv/volunteer_programs.aspx.
- Check out United Way. Search for volunteer opportunities and get involved at www.unitedway.org.
- Ask your friends. Make volunteerism a community project. Rather than going to a movie or shopping at the mall, offer to help in any way you can. You will find opportunities that you haven’t even thought of yet if you investigate your options.