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4 realistic ways you can volunteer this summer

Everyone needs the support and care of a community – whether that’s family, friends, or peers, we all need one. When people come together to serve each other in some way, great things happen for everybody. That’s why it’s important to find ways to get involved and give back to your community.

So, if you’re back home for the summer, here are some ideas of ways to volunteer in your town.

1. Visit a retirement home

The golden years can be quite lonely for some, especially if health and mobility issues develop. For those who require more detailed care, this can mean fewer opportunities to socialize with new people. A great way to counteract this issue is to volunteer your time at a retirement home and give the residents the gift of company. This gives both parties a chance to benefit as they learn about generational differences, connect over shared life situations, and gain insight into things they might not have known about a different era otherwise. Win-win!

You’d be a great fit if:

  • You’re social and like to have long, meaningful conversations
  • You’re patient and can give your full attention to something without getting distracted
  • You have an interest in history and culture
  • You like to entertain or perform for others

How to get involved: Not sure how to plan your visit? Don’t worry – simply coming by to talk and get to know the residents’ stories is a perfect place to start. You can also call ahead to speak with the facility’s activities coordinators and learn about something the residents might enjoy. For example, if you have a special skill for performing, think about sharing that skill with them. Over time, you’ll find the best ways to connect. The most important step here is the first one.

2. Volunteer with the differently-abled

When it comes to life, we’re all born into different circumstances. For those with a different ability, this can mean that certain aspects of life can look a little different or require more attention to detail. Volunteering to help members of society living with handicaps or special needs is a great way to ensure everyone in your community has the same opportunities and joys in life. After all, people living with disabilities can always use the same kind of support and friendship as anyone else!

You’d be a great fit if:

  • You’re social and outgoing
  • You’re adaptable and can go with the flow
  • You’re patient and don’t mind taking the time to let someone enjoy an experience longer than you might choose to

How to get involved: Most communities have organizations that cater to people with physical or intellectual handicaps. These organizations can always use volunteers for group events and other activities as a community. You may also be able to find a group home that’s looking for volunteers to do anything from help cook meals to running errands around town.

You can also support performances like concerts, plays, and art exhibitions where handicapped people are performing. There’s nothing like seeing the look on someone’s face when you’ve appreciated them and made them feel like a star!

3. Share with people who are less fortunate

It can be easy to get so caught up in our lives that we forget to have a look at people living in situations different from our own. When coming from a place of immense privilege, there are plenty of opportunities to help those who might not have been born into the same fortunate situation. So whether it’s a leg up from a scarce economic situation or just sharing a nice meal with someone who could use it, you have the ability to change someone’s life for the better or at least give them some hope in a hard situation.

You’d be a great fit if:

  • You have plenty of resources that you could share
  • You’ve always cared deeply about meeting the needs of others
  • You want to help people feel respected regardless of their present circumstances

How to get involved: Research local organizations who cater to people facing economic difficulties. This can look different in different locations but two that most cities have are soup kitchens where people can get a free hot meal each day and community shelters where some people might live for a length of time. These organizations rely heavily on the work of volunteers and can use help with cooking, cleaning, or simply serving guests of the facilities.

If you don’t have a lot of time to volunteer, you can donate high-quality items that people will always need. Look for a food bank where you can donate non-perishable foods and bottled drinks. You could also donate clothes, linens, or sleeping bags to shelters, especially in locations that face harsh weather conditions. Other often overlooked necessities are toiletry items like toothbrushes, sanitizers, soap, feminine hygiene products, and bags to carry these items in.

4. Help protect your local environment

We are all aware of the immense impact that we as human beings are having on our planet. Unfortunately, it’s not difficult to spot old bottles, cans and plastic bags littering our favorite outdoor spaces. Most of us like to enjoy our summers outside, having picnics in the grass, playing sports with friends, or swimming at the beach – but not when surrounded by trash! Spending a couple of hours to collect discarded plastic and other rubbish at a local park or beach is a perfect way to help your community. Not only will you be making a public space more enjoyable for others, but you will also be improving the health of our planet, one plastic bottle at a time!

You’d be a great fit if:

  • You like to be active and spend time outdoors
  • You’re passionate about protecting the environment and reducing your carbon footprint
  • You like to see the impact you’re making in real-time

How to get involved: This is one of the easiest ways to volunteer your time. Not only does it require minimal planning, but it’s also something you can do at any time! Making a difference in your environment is as simple as When you have an hour to spare you can put on some old sneakers, grab a pair of gloves and a trash bag and head out to your local park or beach.

Put on a good podcast or some music, or bring a few friends to help you cover more ground while you’re cleaning. While it’s easy to do this on your own, you can also make this activity more social. Check with your community center to see if there’s a dedicated litter removal group in your town and work with a team on scheduled clean-up days.

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