Whether your new to the area or looking to get more involved in you community, volunteering is a wonderful opportunity to serve and to connect. The act of volunteering is something that in my opinion, should be done on a regular basis because it forces us to look outside of ourselves and to pour our love into others. It pushes us outside of our comfort zones and into sometimes unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory.
It's also extremely rewarding. By putting our focus on others, we often find that our "problems" now look so small. We realize just how blessed we are; and that all of us are looking to connect. It's not just the people that we are serving that are looking for love and community, its something that we are seeking too. Serving in the community is a beautiful way of letting people know that they are seen, heard and not forgotten - that they are loved. We all have something that we can do or something that we can give. Let us begin. There are so many ways that we can get involved; below are just a few:
One of my favorite places to volunteer is at food pantries. What you do at them differs location to location but often its accepting food donations that come in, organizing the donations, bagging them up, and giving it to people that come by. I love that I get to interact with the people that we are serving on a real-level; I always leave feeling so humbled.
Homelessness is an area of service that I feel most drawn too. I can't imagine being in their shoes and just want to do whatever I can to help them get back up on their feet and moving forward. Like food pantries, every homeless shelter is different in what it does.
Even if your not spiritually-affiliated, churches often have a variety of volunteering opportunities. Its rarely if ever a requirement to be a member or Believer to volunteer. Don't be afraid to inquire to see what's available.
We all know what a difference a solid education can make. Consider volunteering at your local school as a tutor to give the kids there the extra attention that they need.
As my grandparents have gotten older the more I've come to realize how lonely it can be to be an elder. Even if their family lives in the area they are often shuttling around between home, work, after school activities, etc. and can have trouble making the time to visit with their aging family. Volunteering at a nursing home is a great way to show love to the elders in our community and to let them know that they are not forgotten.
Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity is great for those who like to be physically active and use their hands. They work on a variety of projects such as building and re-storing homes, helping with disaster relief, etc. Their vision is for a world where everyone has a decent place to live.
If your an animal lover this is the perfect volunteer opportunity for you! Animal shelters are always looking for volunteers. Check yours out to see if there's a spot for you!