As you may know, I just graduated from the 42nd class of Leadership Grand Strand. Leadership Grand Strand is a 10-month program sponsored by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce to develop a corps of informed, committed, and qualified individuals who provide dynamic leadership for the Grand Strand area. As part of the requirements for graduation, my classmates and I had to volunteer at least 75 hours with various local charities, including Habitat for Humanity and New Directions Men’s Shelter in Myrtle Beach.
Although I already knew that I had a heart for service through previous volunteer opportunities with the credit union, Leadership Grand Strand tremendously strengthened my desire to give back to the community. However, with so many different volunteer opportunities, finding ways to help that will actually make an impact can be tricky.
If you are already an avid volunteer or are looking for ways to start giving back to your community, check out the BALANCE blog post below:
People choose to volunteer for many reasons. Some choose to give back to the community out of a sense of duty. Others decide to volunteer to gain experience. Some even do volunteer work under the advisement of the local law authorities. No matter the reason, there are quite a few opportunities available for those who wish to give their time and energy back to the community.
Finding a place to volunteer can be as simple as taking a walk down to your local retirement home. Nine times out of ten, the businesses that care for our elderly citizens are woefully understaffed. While you might not be qualified to act as a resident nurse or a doctor, there are several other ways that you can volunteer at a retirement home. Perhaps you can volunteer to run the weekly bingo game, or sit and visit with those that don’t have a family to come and see them. Another volunteer option at the local retirement home is to work in the kitchen or laundry area. Both places have extensive needs for help, and you’ll be making a real difference while staying out of the limelight. If one of these sounds like an ideal situation for your volunteering skills, sit down with the manager of the retirement home; I’m sure they’ll be happy to have your help. They may have social-distance opportunities as well, such as virtual story-time, making craft supplies at home for delivery, or making cards for the patients.
Maybe you are the kind of volunteer that prefers pets over people, there are other ways to give back to the community. One of the most rewarding is to volunteer at the local animal shelter. Provided you are not allergic to animals, volunteering at a place like this can be a great way to take care of animals that have been abandoned or neglected. In general, animal shelters always look for people to walk dogs and play with cats, feed them, and even make sure the future pets are up to date on the vet visits. Volunteering at an animal shelter at times can be a very humbling thing to do, but at the same time, watching a new family walk out the door with their latest furry member of the family is one of the greatest joys. These shelters usually allow for volunteers with social distance guidelines in place.
Another option for volunteering that many people don’t know about allows you to spend your days in the fresh air. Sounds tempting? Then take a short drive or stroll down to your local park district. Maintaining the parks, keeping the plants, pavilions, and campgrounds in beautiful shape is truly a full-time job. Sadly, many parks and recreational areas have fallen into disrepair simply because the funding for daily maintenance and upkeep is not in the budget. That’s why volunteers have become such an integral part of keeping our natural areas fit for enjoyment. Volunteer activities can be anything from blazing trails to cutting weeds to even taking children on informative nature hikes. Even in the winter months, there is work to be done. If helping to maintain the parks in your area is an inviting prospect to you, contact your local park district. They’ll most likely have a volunteer coordinator who can direct you to the places in the most need of help.
Many people believe that our younger generation’s education is one of the most important things a society can do. Luckily, quite a few of these people decide to volunteer their time to help in this endeavor. Even if you’re not a trained teacher, there are still ways you can influence the lives of today’s youth. Mentor a child by sharing some of your interests. Help with a reading room. Another option is to work with an after school sports program. Besides the intrinsic value of volunteering, you can easily see the enjoyment you’ll get from seeing a child’s mind expand and blossom.
Of course, one of the main reasons people volunteer is to provide for those who are less fortunate than others. One of the best and most important ways to accomplish this is to help with the local soup kitchen or food bank. In places like this, you have the chance to help people who genuinely need it, and the rewards for doing so are great indeed. Soup kitchens and food banks are always looking for people to help out, either loading or unloading produce, serving food, or even cleaning the kitchen after a big meal.
These are just a few of the different ways that a person can volunteer. Of course, the trick is to find an opportunity that fits the need, your skills, and the desire to help. Luckily, many cities and towns have volunteer centers that can coordinate your efforts with the people’s needs. Check online for local, national, and even international organizations that match volunteers with the perfect charity. Your options to do good are endless, so get out there and start helping!