Volunteering is a great way to get involved in your community and it’s easier (and more fun) than you may think. The following organizations offer interesting volunteer opportunities that, based on my own experience, allow you to decide how involved you become, as well as what type of time commitment you’d like to invest.
Your public library
Public libraries all over the country are losing their funding, and with the nation’s latest economic woes, the situation isn’t going to improve anytime soon. With less funding, that means less money to spend on hiring full-time employees. Regardless of these financial struggles, however, public libraries continue to offer their patrons free access to books, movies, CDs and the Internet, as well as function as the cultural center for many small communities by offering classes and other events open to the public.
Now more than ever, public libraries need volunteers to help with the day-to-day operations of running their organization. Volunteers help with sorting and re-shelving of materials, assisting customers, and participating in other projects as they arise (I once dressed up as a literary character as a volunteer for the Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County). To find a public library near you, you may visit PublicLibraries.com and search to find out what types of volunteer opportunities are available at your local library.
Big Brothers Big Sisters
Big Brothers Big Sisters focuses on its mission to help children facing adversity through the help of mentoring. The traditional program consists of Big Brothers or Sisters spending quality time with a Little Brother or Sister — whether that means going to the movies, working on homework together, or playing basketball after school.
However, if you think the traditional program consists of too much of a time commitment or a financial burden, there are often other alternative programs that still allow you to have a positive impact on children. For example, when I was a student at Miami University (in Oxford, Ohio), BBBS of Butler County offered the opportunity for college students to participate in a afterschool daycare program once a week, which included playing games with an assigned Little, as well as helping the Little with his or her homework. More information about volunteer programs for BBBS can be found on the Volunteer section of their website.
Goodwill Industries International, Inc.
Goodwill’s mission is to help people in need through the power of employment. By selling gently used donations, Goodwill thrift stores raise money to assist people with training and job placement services.
Though the majority of Goodwill staff consists of paid employees (as I can attest to, as a previous employee), the stores often need volunteers to help collect and sort donations. To find a Goodwill near you that needs volunteers, you can visit the Volunteer section of their website.
As you can see from these examples, volunteering is an easy way to make a positive impact on your community. This is just a brief list of the experiences that I’ve had with different nonprofits — there are many other organizations currently in need of volunteers. To find out more about nonprofit organizations in your area, a good resource to use is Idealist.org, which lists various volunteer and employment opportunities within the nonprofit sector by location and type.
More from this Contributor:
Save Our Public Libraries!
4 Reasons I Hate Looking for a Job
How to Start College Successfully