In the past I have really enjoyed volunteering with different organizations. It feels good to do good. But then life got in the way and I slowly stopped my volunteer work. In 2020, my husband and I plan to get back in action. We know of a few nonprofits that we worked with previously, but have lost touch with the folks that organize events and recruit volunteers. So my search is on for an organization that is close to home that I feel passionate about. If you also want to make getting involved with your community a focus for 2020, then this post is perfect for you. I will provide you with lots of places where you can volunteer and ideas on how you can give back.
How to Choose Where to Volunteer.
Before I even began my search for resources, I had to nail down my search criteria. I will say LOCATION is on the top of my list. We have worked with an agency in the past, then we moved and tried to keep up with it, but the distance just made it too difficult. It has to be close to home; I don’t want to spend more time driving to and from than I do putting my time towards actually helping someone. The next criteria on my list is the CAUSE. I have to feel some sort of personal connection to the cause or it’s just not going to happen. I mean, let’s be real, if you don’t feel compassion towards those you are helping, you will not stick with it for the long term. So I wrote down a few causes that are close to my heart: animals/ dog rescue, suicide prevention and women’s social issues.
I think once you can really be honest and figure out those two criteria, the next thing to think about is how much TIME can you really afford to give. Does it fit your schedule better to volunteer a couple of hours in the evening on your way home from work, or do you want to devote some time on the weekend for your volunteer work? You need to know how this is realistically going to work out with your other obligations. Lastly, figure out what TYPE of work are you willing to do. Some people might prefer getting in there and getting dirty. So picking out an organization that builds homes would be great for the physical, hands on type. Some people may prefer just doing some light office work so picking an organization that needs envelopes stuffed and mailed might work out best. Once you go through these four steps of laying out your criteria, you might have something in mind that you know you will love, you might have no idea but a simple online search will show you the answer and some of you might see that even though you have a desire to volunteer your time, you just don’t have the time to give. Well guess what, most nonprofit organizations appreciate monetary donations just as much, so if that is all you can give, there’s no shame, write that check and know that you are helping out those in need.
Where Can You Volunteer?
No matter where you live, there are some standard places where you can volunteer your time. Here are a few:
- ASPCA/ Animal Shelter/ Animal Rescue
- Volunteer Fire Department
- Soup Kitchen
- Food Pantry
- Homeless Shelter
- Library- Reading Programs
- Community College- English as a Second Language/ Tutoring
- Hospital- patient services
- Nursing Home- resident activities
- Professional Organizations: Alzheimer’s Association, Wounded Warrior Project, Operation Smile, World Wildlife Fund, etc.
- Red Cross Blood Drives
- Entertainment Venues: concert hall, theater, playhouse, etc.
Simple Ways to Give Back to Your Community.
If you want to give back to your community and hometown heroes, but don’t want to be tied down to a schedule or just one organization, here are some super simple ideas on things you can do when you have a little spare time. If you can get the whole family involved in a project, it is a great way to spend quality time together.
- Bake a batch of cookies to drop off to your local first responders: fire, EMS, police.
- Prepare a casserole for that neighbor going through a tough time.
- Have your kids help pick out gifts for their teachers and teacher assistants.
- Prepare a platter of goodies (homemade or store bought) for the nursing staff at your local hospital or nursing home- most of which have to work on holidays and aren’t able to be at home with their families.
- Mail a gift to a family member that you haven’t seen in awhile.
- Call and reconnect with that friend that you have lost contact with over the past few years
- Leave a little grocery store floral arrangement on your co-worker’s desk just to brighten her day.
- Clean out your pantry and drop off a donation at the food pantry- no expired goods.
- Sign your family up to cook dinner one night at the soup kitchen.
10 Local Charlotte, NC Area Organizations Looking for Volunteers.
- Hands on Charlotte My husband and I worked with this organization years ago when we first moved to Charlotte. What I liked most is that once you are in, you can go online to check out the monthly schedule to pick and choose which volunteer activities you want to sign up for easily.
- Habitat for Humanity– Help build homes for those in need that also assist in building their future home.
- Blumenthal Performing Arts– Sign up to help out as an usher, in the box office and more at Charlotte’s local theater.
- The Humane Society of Charlotte– If you love animals and have a passion to help dogs and cats in need, this is right up your alley.
- Freedom Farm Rescue– Has all types of animals that they rescue and take care of at their suburban farm in Union County.
- Ronald McDonald House– This home away from home needs help in supporting the parents of children going through life saving medical treatments in area hospitals.
- Hope Haven– Helps individuals that are struggling with addiction many of which are also homeless.
- Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina– Provides meals for families in need and aims to end hunger.
- Turning Point– Emergency shelter placement for women fleeing abusive relationships and raises money for their program through several local thrift stores.
- Lily Pad Haven, Inc.– Deals with human trafficking and provides safe houses for local victims.
I hope this post has given you some great starting points in finding a volunteer opportunity that really speaks to you and that you are able to carve out some time to help those that are less fortunate.