For some time, I have grappled with something. I know that I’m a fortunate individual. It makes me want to give back. But how? For starters I owe nothing less than being the best husband, father, friend, and colleague that I can be. While this goes a long way towards making the world a better place, I want to do more. There is clearly plenty of suffering out there in the world. But you know what I’ve discovered? I don’t necessarily have to go far to help someone in need. There are plenty of opportunities to give back locally. In fact, you don’t even necessarily have to even leave your house!
A little bit of internet searching revealed a few websites dedicated to helping people find volunteer opportunities. Here are three of them:
All three of these are neat websites where sponsoring organizations post volunteer opportunities. The first two are nationwide and the third is specific to my local area (Fairfax County). On all three sites, volunteers can search the opportunities posted by sponsoring organizations by location, date, and certain criteria. The searchable criteria can be things like “suitable for all ages” for example, if you are interested in getting your kids involved. You can optionally add skills that you have, for example, “Coaching” to help zero-in on opportunities in that area if that is a particular skill you possess. You can also search by an interest area, for example “Homeless and Housing” to help narrow down opportunities that way. Best of all, if you don’t have a lot of time to drive around, or need to stay home because of COVID (or any reason, health related or otherwise) you can search for remote volunteer opportunities!
The sites require you to create a login and password. Once created, you can search for volunteer opportunities. I like that fact that you can search by a range of dates or a specific date. One of the first searches I did on the justserve.org site was including the “suitable for all ages” criteria and a date range of the Month of January. It popped up with a couple opportunities in my area (Northern VA). One that interested me particularly was an opportunity to assemble meals to help ensure that under-privileged school-aged children have nutritious food over the weekend. This is one that my wife and I will definitely consider doing with our kids in the near future.
In a separate search including the option “remote opportunity”, I came up with many returns. One of the great things about remote volunteer opportunities is, no longer being constrained to local options, you can help people far and wide. A few that seemed interesting were: Blogging for the American Red Cross, volunteer listener for crisis support, and employment coaching for adults with Autism. One of the volunteer opportunities was through https://www.brighten-a-day.org. It was to send senior citizens hand written messages as a way to cheer them up. This particular one caught my attention because I had just been recently musing with my friend Vivek how important it is for our Mental Health to have someone to talk to. Unfortunately, many folks, especially older folks in care homes, don’t have that. This volunteer opportunity is to create a handwritten note for one of these older folks. If I can spend a few minutes and possibly provide someone a much needed boost, why not? There was another, similar volunteer opportunity on the site for writing notes to children with pediatric cancer. My eyes are tearing up just thinking about that one.
These opportunities didn’t take long to find. There are plenty of other resources out there to help find additional volunteer opportunities far beyond what my short search uncovered. If giving money is more your style there looked to be quite a few options for that as well. The one that I’m most familiar with is the Combined Federal Campaign:
The thing I like about the CFC is that you can search for charities by their administrative costs. That way, you can be confident that less of your contributions go to overhead, and more towards helping. If you are a federal employee, you can set up automatic deductions from your pay. That way you can distribute your contributions throughout the year.
If you are feeling compelled to give back, I encourage you to do a little searching and find a way to give back to the community! If each of us does just a little more, just think of the impact we can have!