Volunteer opportunities require nothing more than a big heart and willingness to be yourself. In the United States alone, there are thousands of children in need of a mentor, and thousands of animals in need of a stable home. The opportunities are endless, and the time commitments are flexible. You just have to be willing to take the first step.
Play a Big Role While They're Small
(Volunteer Commitment: 2-3 hours/week and up)
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America pairs individual volunteers with youngsters in their community to help them build self-confidence, avoid risky behaviors and improve in school. As a Big Brother or Big Sister, you become a mentor, a role model and most importantly, a friend. It only takes a small investment of time, and much of that is spent doing things you already like to do.
You can also Create the Good as a volunteer tutor. AARP Experience Corps matches older adults with elementary students who struggle with literacy. Organizations like Citizen Schools extend the learning day—and educational potential—for students in low-income communities. School on Wheels has provided volunteer opportunities to help homeless children with their studies since 1993. Your local elementary or high school can inform you of volunteer opportunities. Or you can volunteer your services to members of your social or religious circles.
Animals in our community need love, too.
(Volunteer Commitment: Daily/Ongoing)
If you’re looking for a rewarding, one-on-one volunteer opportunity, consider adopting an animal in need. Pet ownership requires daily feeding, playtime and one-on-one attention, as well as routine maintenance such as grooming and visits to the vet. Adoption is far more streamlined and reassuring than it was just a decade ago. Organizations like theshelterpetproject.org can search the whole country to help you find the right pet. You can also find more information about adoption through the ASPCA, or contact your local animal shelter.
Foster a Sense of Purpose
(Volunteer Commitment: Daily/Ongoing/Flexible)
If you’d like to care for a pet without the long-term commitment, consider being a foster owner. Dogs on Deployment is a foster pet organization that coordinates housing for pets while their owners are deployed in the military. Your municipality can also provide details about volunteer opportunities.
Got a minute? Grab a leash!
( Volunteer Commitment: 30 minutes/week and up)
At the very local level, you can Create the Good simply by giving a neighbor a helping hand. Offer to house-sit for, or board a pet while a neighbor leaves on vacation. Or get some good exercise and Create the Good by volunteering to walk their dog. All of gestures take just minutes of your time, and chances are you already have the skills.
Find even more volunteer opportunities in your community here.