Make Volunteering Matter
Our nation has suffered heartache in recent history. Some would even say we're in a time of testing. How we react to trials by fire reveals our true character, on both a personal and collective level.
Americans are unmatched in rebounding in a time of crisis, and it shows – one family, one act at a time, from sweeping acts of generosity that involves millions of charity dollars to small, individual acts of kindness that involve bringing a box of food to a flood victim.
If your family is looking for a way to reach out to someone in need, whether it be the result of a national disaster or something closer to home, here are some ideas for volunteering:
1. Volunteer to sponsor an exchange student.
Give a young person a chance to live in America and discover their dreams and potential. Some of these projects are subsidized, and some aren't. This is one way an entire family can volunteer.
2. Volunteer at a local hospice.
Hospice patients are oftentimes home-bound and are unable to do errands for themselves. Trips to the bank, post office or grocery store can be life savers. You may also offer respite to the round-the-clock caregivers and give them an opportunity to catch up on their own errands. You may also read to a hospice patient or provide occasional companionship.
3. Volunteer at a homeless shelter.
You can cook, serve meals or provide clothes and other personal items.
4. Volunteer with the Big Brother/Big Sister program.
Be a role model for an at-risk child. Many children don't have positive mentors. Older teens who are responsible and trustworthy (and who can drive!) are often prime candidates.
5. Volunteer at the YMCA.
They serve a lot of children and could use the extra help in the various activities they provide. Perhaps you can offer lessons in swimming, music, coaching or art.
6. Volunteer at a local nursing home.
Some of the residents simply don't have family to visit them. And although most nursing homes provide some spiritual services, some residents want a little more. Most are unable to attend church out in the community like they did before and appreciate the company. Entire families can schedule a visit, and all members have something to contribute, whether it be hand-made cards drawn by a child or a hymn sung by a grandmother.
7. Volunteer at a hospital.
You can be a candy striper, or if you're an artsy/crafty kind of person, make some homemade get-well cards for the patients who may not have family or friends to visit them. The children's unit is a great place to start. And don't forget the geriatric unit as well. Hand-picked flowers from your own garden are a great way to make someone feel special.
8. Volunteer to help a convalescent.
Mowing the yard, washing the car or doing the dishes are a few ways we can help out. This is a great way for an energetic teenager to experience the joy of helping someone else.
9. Volunteer to work a hotline.
This is perfect for retirees who have expertise and a lifetime of experience to share. Retired nurses, psychologists or police officers can lend their time and talents to someone over the telephone.
10. Volunteer to be a foster grandparent.
For a of couple hours a day, we can help improve students' reading, math and study skills. Seniors are preferred.
So what'll it be?
It doesn't take a lot of money to be a volunteer, but it does take time and commitment. Start where you are, whoever you are, regardless of age or experience. Even small children like to feel useful and helpful when they bring a shut-in some flowers or a tin of cookies. This will start a lifelong habit of volunteering, and the rewards will be immeasurable.
May your motto be: The family that helps together, grows together.