It's always a wonderful thing to give back and get involved in your community. But if you're wondering how you can get started, here's guest contributor Marie Tissa with a list of websites that can help!
Since I was young, I have always been involved in community service in one form or another. I find that not only do I get to help others, but it’s a great way for me to feel better about myself as well. Whenever I am able to do something to help make someone’s life better, I always feel as if I’ve done some good to make the world slightly better. It’s also a great way to remind me to be grateful for all that I have, and to show my thanks by giving to those who are in need. Here are some sites that I have found that are very helpful in finding ways to volunteer in your community.
I love Idealist! I first came across this site when a friend who works for a non-profit recommended it for job searches. Not only do they post jobs from non-profit organizations, but they also include search engines for internships and volunteer opportunities. They make it easy to search for the type of position that you are looking for, and where you can find it. It's one central location for organizations to post opportunities, and for volunteers to search for opportunities, enables people to get involved and make a change.
DoSomething.org is geared specifically towards teens and college students. They provide ways for young adults to get involved with causes they care about such as bullying, animal cruelty, homelessness, etc. On their website they include lots of different events and activities for young adults to get involved with that do not require an adult to help. These range from petitions that can be signed online to volunteer events. Further, DoSomething.org likes to reward their hard-working volunteers with scholarships. On their website they have many scholarships posted for their members to apply to.
As a woman who has volunteered in a capacity where I was able to help women in need, I found empowering other women to be one of the most rewarding volunteering opportunities. One of my favorite charitable organizations is Dress for Success. The organization strives to empower disadvantaged women by helping them obtain jobs in order to help them gain more stability and independence in their lives. They offer women professional attire for interviews and for the start of their jobs until they are able to afford professional clothes for themselves. There are many ways to help with this organization such as donating and organizing drives, sorting clothes at their donation centers, providing career development tools, acting as a personal shopper, and so much more. Click on the link to «Support DFS» on their website to find the list of the many ways you can help out.
Volunteermatch.org allows for you to easily find local organizations that need your help. They use your computer’s IP address to automatically generate a list of local organizations and events in your area. From there, you can decide which cause is most important to you to narrow your responses, and find something that is a good fit for both you and for the organization. This site constantly popped up in my google searches for volunteer opportunities, directing me to exactly what I was looking for.
I can’t think of a better way to explore the beautiful scenery in our nation than by volunteering in our national parks and public lands to help various government agencies. Volunteer.gov, the United States’ official website for volunteer opportunities, gives a variety of different outdoor volunteer activities. The website features different events such as leading half-day kayaking trips, researching and collecting data, leading camping trips, and so much more! This is a great website to find ways to give back to your country. In addition, some of the longer-term volunteer opportunities include housing and a stipend as well. This is an excellent way for anyone looking to pursue a career in an area that involves the environment, national parks, and lands, to get involved and learn firsthand about the different government agencies.
The American Red Cross provides many ways to get involved with your local community through their website. In addition to helping with blood drives, they also seek advocates to help promote their message and create awareness. Further, as one of the first organizations to respond to any disaster, they are seeking disaster relief volunteers. They also have many opportunities for groups to volunteer with them as well. I have personally volunteered with them during the Christmas season by wrapping toys for children in need. They have a ton of volunteer opportunities available in different areas and are always looking for help.
This one is for all you animal lovers out there! The Humane Society lists many different ways you can take action as a volunteer on their website. They provide links to help you contact your elected representatives to help change legislation and get support for their campaigns and programs. The Humane Society website also allows you to search by your location to find local volunteer programs, in addition to linking to other animal programs in your area in case you don’t find something that appeals to you amongst their programs. They are looking for volunteers for their care centers, wildlife sanctuaries, veterinary support, and many other needs.
I hope this list helps you find something to spark your interest in volunteering. It is so rewarding to be able to give back to your community, and the feeling you get from helping others is indescribable. If you have any other websites or programs you’d like to suggest, please let me know in the comments!