Summertime is the best time to complete service in the community. There are a number of things that you can do to gain volunteer hours and help your community at the same time. Below are 10 possible ides for ways you can give back this summer.
- Assist with a community garden. Gardening is a big trend and a lot of people and organizations are making the choice to grow their own and provide more organic options.
- Help at a local homeless shelter. There are a variety of options for families, just children, just women, and just men. Find a shelter that speaks to your desire to assist.
- Support a good cause. Many organizations will host summer events such a races, carnivals, awards banquets, and more outreach events. Find a cause that is near to you and see what they have on the calendar.
- Donate time and supplies to a local camp. Summer camps run throughout the entire summer and can be found everywhere from local churches to YMCAs.
- Clean a park/playground. Find a park or playground that needs some attention. Now find the organization responsible for the upkeep and find out how you can help. Even picking up trash could make the difference for the animals and children.
- Go abroad. Find a mission trip to be a part of and assist those in other countries.
- Build a house. Habitat for Humanity and similar organizations will work to build or repair existing houses for those in need.
- Play with puppies. Animal shelters need your special skills to play with animals awaiting adoption.
- Support a Food Bank. Lend a hand at a local bank to help organize and package items accordingly.
- Create your own project. Examine your passions, community, and issues affecting you or your family.
This list will hopefully jumpstart ideas within you that will stir some excitement in giving back. Once you have identified how you would like to give back, now you have to determine how to get involved.
There are a number of ways to research ways to get involved. You can scour the internet using a variety of search terms based on your topic of choice. Get creative and don’t just search for volunteer opportunities in my city. You may have to do some cold calling to organizations in your area of interest and let them know who you are, what you want to do, and how you could be of service to them.
You may have to step away from the computer and conduct your search in person. Smaller and start-up nonprofit organizations may not have big robust websites. However, they usually have an office and you showing up in person could provide you with a better opportunity to landing the volunteer opportunity.
Lastly, get out into your community. Look at local newspapers, go to local community centers, visit town hall meetings, reach out to local fraternity and sororities to find out how to get involved. You can often see posters or ask local librarians or community center directors about upcoming opportunities, projects that organizations are working on, and ways you can get involved.
If you cannot find the project you are looking for, consider starting your own. Develop a name, come up with a mission, and fundraise to help achieve your goals. Start off simple and small and allow the project to grow organically.
Be prepared that you may have to go through an interview process or you may just get thrown into the project. Expect and be prepared for both. You should ace the interview by knowing a little bit about the organization, their mission, and how your skills, passion, and education can benefit the mission. You should treat this experience like a real job; interview seriously, work hard, and be professional. At the end of the experience, be sure to ask for a letter of recommendation or a document indicating how many hours you completed and your responsibilities. Keep this information handy as it could be useful when you want to apply for scholarships, jobs, and future volunteer experiences. It is important to get the information on paper right after the experience versus two years later, when people that were around when you volunteered are no longer able to assist.
Find some time this summer to give back in at least one way. Use your social media to track the event and to hopefully inspire others to get involved.