More and more people are volunteering their services and expertise to help their communities. According to one source, approximately 25 percent of adults in the United States, or 63 million people in the country, volunteer to help make a difference in the nation.
Age isn’t a hurdle for volunteerism either. As many as 28 percent of middle-aged Americans volunteer their time while they’re holding full-time jobs and almost 18 percent of teens below 18 years of age volunteer between studying for the SATs and hanging out with friends.
If you’re interested in helping people and making a difference around your community, here are 8 volunteering options you should consider.
1. Work at a Soup Kitchen
According to information from the White House, there are more than 550,000 homeless people in the United States. These people need warm, nutritious food to survive. Volunteering at a soup kitchen can help organizations who are feeding the homeless.
What to expect: There are a variety of tasks you may be asked to do in a soup kitchen. Food preparation is one of them, but unless you have the skills to prepare a lot of food in a short time, you may be asked to do something else. Serving the food and cleaning up after it has been served is just as important as making it.
2. Help at a Treatment Center
Experts estimate that almost 21 million people in the US are struggling with at least one addiction. You can volunteer in many drug treatment centers around the country. Your help can be invaluable in offering these people a chance of overcoming their addictions and improving their well-being.
What to expect: If you’re talented with crafts and other skills, you can volunteer to help with art therapy. Or if you have had experience with helping a loved one overcome their own addiction, you can share your story and inspire others. This could be a great way to prepare for a career as a sober companion.
3. Care for Older Adults
Almost 50 percent of people who reside in nursing homes are over 85 years of age. One of the most common challenges faced by older adults in these living conditions is loneliness. This affects almost 40 percent of nursing home residents. Volunteering in a nursing home can help alleviate this issue.
What to expect: The best thing you can do for older adults is just spend time with them. Talk to them and reminisce about their lives. Do arts and crafts with them or even assist in feeding them should they need it. Leave medical concerns to professionals unless you have the proper training.
4. Help a Donation Drive
Many people all over the United States require material goods, such as food, clothing, and medication. This disparity could be caused by poverty or a natural disaster like a wildfire or a storm. Although federal and state agencies can and will provide these goods if need be, you can support their efforts by volunteering in donation drives.
What to expect: A lot of people focus entirely on collecting goods but the logistics of sorting and delivering the donations is vastly more important. You’ll be expected to sort donations and organize them into bundles. If you have a car or have the skills to drive, you can even help with transporting these goods to where they need to go.
5. Assist in Museums
Many people who go to museums and art galleries need some assistance in understanding the importance of the artifacts or pieces they’re viewing. Although all museums feature labels on their exhibits and offer guidebooks, not everyone finds these texts interesting. You can foster appreciation in history and the arts by volunteering in these institutions.
What to expect: You can volunteer to be a docent, a sort of tour guide within the museum. You’ll be expected to study up on the history and details of the exhibits. You’ll also need to have patience and people skills if you want to be an effective docent.
6. Support Front Liners
In these uncertain times, front liners are some of the most important people helping in stemming the tide. Front liners include medical professionals like doctors and nurses as well as essential workers like garbage collectors and grocery store employees. You can assist in their efforts by providing valuable support as a volunteer.
What to expect: There are many efforts to help front liners, including meal drives for hospital employees. Other equally important ways you can support them are providing babysitting services, organizing carpool services, or even opening your home if it’s more accessible to their places of employment.
Kindness and compassion aren’t as rare as people might believe. The astounding number of volunteers in the country attest that the spark of heroism and community still burns bright within people. Use these 6 volunteering options to nourish that spark.