As large parts of the Midwest continue cleaning up after a spring of violent weather, volunteers will be flocking to the hardest hit areas to offer their help and support. Some of those same volunteers will head to the southeast later this year should one or more hurricanes make landfall. If it were not for volunteers and the organizations behind them, devastating storms would likely have an even greater impact.
Perhaps you have found yourself wishing you could volunteer. If so, what is stopping you? If you’ve never volunteered before and don’t know what to do, no worries. Volunteering is a lot like walking. You start out with baby steps first. Master them and you can start walking faster, further, and for longer periods. Eventually you will be running.
If you have never volunteered before, here are five easy ways to get started:
1. Spend Some Time with Seniors
Contact any nursing home in your local area and ask the program director if you can come spend time with residents. Chances are you will hear a resounding and enthusiastic ‘yes’. Program directors are almost always looking for ways to keep residents busy. They love volunteers willing to come in and do simple things like read, present travel experiences, play games, or just sit and visit.
2. Participate in Local Cleanup Efforts
Just about every local community conducts at least one public cleanup initiative annually. Some of your bigger cities offer cleanup events every month. These events are a wonderful way for you to get started as a volunteer. They typically only require a few hours of time on a weekend, time spent cleaning up a local park or picking up debris from the side of the road.
3. Organize a Food Drive
If you live in an urban area, the chances are fairly good that there are at least one or two food banks in town. You could volunteer by organizing a food drive on behalf of those banks. Nonprofit food banks are almost always looking for non-perishables like canned and dry goods. Heading up a food drive gives you the opportunity to not only keep the shelves stocked but also encourage others to get involved.
4. Be a Mentor
Another fantastic opportunity is to become a mentor. For example, you could volunteer to work with an organization like the Junior League of Salt Lake City. They are continually looking for women willing to be mentors to young girls learning what it means to be empowered. They also recruit women who can teach women’s leadership groups to other women.
5. Donate Necessary Resources
Volunteerism takes many forms. Sometimes it is not about actually going somewhere and providing labor. Sometimes it’s a matter of supplying the necessary resources to make a charitable initiative a success. Again, we will use the Junior League of Salt Lake City as an example.
Their Women to Women initiative provides free business attire to women re-entering the workforce or entering it for the first time. You might not have the time to commit to being a mentor, but you could spend a few hours on Saturday purchasing half-a-dozen business outfits you would then donate to the program.
There are some people capable of volunteering the majority of their free time and disposable resources. Yet every one of them started out small. If you’ve never volunteered but would like to, we hope you take encouragement in that. Try one of these easy things to get started. Once you realize the impact of your volunteerism, you will likely be motivated to get more involved. That’s how it works.