Local Volunteer Opportunities
With the new growth on trees and plants and the melting of snow in northern regions, it’s time to get out in the beautiful spring weather and enjoy Mother Nature. Many people find this a good time to do a little volunteer work. You can contribute to your community and the wellbeing of others, plus it makes you feel good, too! You can volunteer in an area that goes with your hobby or interests. You can even invite your grandchildren to help. Younger kids will enjoy spending time with you doing something special.
If you are all out of ideas, here are some suggestions.
If you love to garden, here are a couple of possibilities:
Contact your city maintenance department and see if they would like some flowers planted around City Hall or in an easement near a busy street. Let them advise you as to what grows well in your area.
Bring some freshly cut flowers from your yard to a local nursing home, homeless shelter or a neighbor to brighten up their day.
Bring Cheer Through Card Giving
Card giving is the gift that keeps on giving. Bringing cards for loved ones on special occasions helps the receiver feel loved and valued. My grandmother used to send me birthday cards and special occasion cards throughout the year. It always made me look forward to certain times of the year when I knew I could expect to see something special in the mail. I’m not the only one who enjoys cards!
Bringing seasonal cards such as: Mother’s Day (May 10), Father’s Day (June 21), Flag Day (June 14), Memorial Day (May 25), “Thinking of You” and even birthday cards to a nursing home is a great way to show your loved one (and their friends!) that you care about them. Your grandchildren can help decorate the cards with drawings, cut-outs, stickers on the front and sign them inside next to your signature and the title “volunteer” (so they know who you are). Write a short message inside in large letters – wide-tip markers work well. Leave birthday cards with staff to deliver on the exact day. Delivering the cards you have made, accompanied by the artists (your grandchildren) will be a happy time for everyone. Go room-to-room passing out cards. Maybe make this a monthly habit. You can also do this at a local hospital with homemade get-well cards.
Volunteer to Read Out Loud
It’s a common misconception that nursing homes are depressing, but everyone I have taken along, both young and old, has been surprised by how cheerful they felt when leaving. You could volunteer to read letters or the newspaper to residents, too. If you play any musical instrument, you will have an appreciative audience. It’s the only place I have seen a tuba solo applauded (okay, maybe not a drum solo). If your grandchildren are studying an instrument, the nursing home is a great place for them to get practice performing in front of an audience. They usually have a piano. Applause is guaranteed.
You can volunteer to be a teacher’s aide at a local school or read stories to children at the local library. Be a mentor.
Speaking of reading, librivox.org is an online organization that offers free downloads of audio-books. They need volunteers to read and record books or parts of books. If you have a computer, they will tell you how to do it. Contact librivox.org to sign up as a reader. Even those who don’t get out can do this one.
Bring your Pet Pooch
Why not take your docile, well-behaved pet to a nursing home? Just be sure to phone ahead to see if it is okay. Seniors respond to a calm dog or cat and enjoy petting them. Many had pets they had to leave behind when they went to the home.
Be a Hero to the Homeless
Don’t have an extra hour? Next time you go shopping buy a few extra non-perishable food items for the local food bank. Or buy socks when they are on sale, fill one sock with the second sock and non-perishable snacks like peanuts, granola bars, or raisins. Add a comb, toothbrush and small toothpaste, razor and small soap. Close the stuffed sock with a rubber band. You can do this in front of the TV. Keep these in your car for when you see the homeless and just hand them a stuffed sock out the window. It’s even better than handing them money and it is full of things they need and can use right away.
Volunteering is a way to contribute to your community. It makes the world a better place, one kind act at a time. Share your volunteering ideas and experiences in the comments!