Great Volunteer Ideas

by Joan Whetzel

Teenagers and adults alike can benefit from volunteering. For teenagers and adults in the workforce, volunteering provides work experience, job skills and a first-rate addition to any resume. For retired adults, volunteering offers an opportunity to give back to the community, to keep the mind stimulated through learning, and find a creative way to spend that newfound spare time. The key to a rewarding experience is volunteering in areas of one's interests.

Hospital

Teens working as hospital candy stripers earn future education and job experience in the medical field. They also have the opportunity to work with people and learn a few social skills. Adults, especially retirees, volunteering in hospitals get the opportunity to be a support system to staff and patients alike. Volunteering in a VA hospital also affords the opportunity to care for veterans and give them the thanks they deserve.

Nursing Home

For teens, volunteering to work in a nursing home is an opportunity to connect with an extra set of grandparents, which is a life-enriching experience. For working adults and retirees, it's an opportunity to share work skills in a rewarding way. Nursing home volunteer work might include: sharing accounting skills for tax help, sharing computer experience to teach computer classes, or sharing artistic skills in music, art or dance to keep older folks active and alert.

Animal Shelter

Young and old volunteers alike can learn about animal care while providing animal shelters much-needed assistance. Walking animals and cleaning cages as well as clerical skills like answering phones and filing will all be greatly appreciated --- and rewarded with doggy kisses.

Save the Environment

Environmental volunteering may be something like picking up trash in the neighborhood or signing up the scout troop or ladies' club for a mile of highway to clean up. It can also include joining a well established environmental group like Greenpeace or the Sierra Club and helping with their campaigns.

Museum Docent

Museums are always looking for volunteers. Generally needed are office workers and museum docents, which are volunteers who either give tours of the different exhibits and items in the museum.

Cable Access or Public Broadcasting

Volunteering at cable access channels or the latest public broadcasting station releases funds that could be used to keep these stations alive. Volunteering can provide rewarding learning experiences and allow volunteers to expand their creativity.

Other Volunteer Opportunities

There are plenty of other volunteer opportunities out there. Organize a library book drive, a neighborhood clothing drive or community food drive. Volunteer for neighborhood beautification activities such as putting a coat of paint on a church or historical building, becoming a school volunteer, mowing for an elderly neighbor, or cleaning up a neighborhood park. Other ways to help include joining the Red Cross, driving for Meals on Wheels, participating in the local Chamber of Commerce or fundraising for the United Way.

Getting the Most Out of Volunteering

The best ways to get the most out of the volunteer experience are to show up, speak up and step up. Exhibit a sense of commitment and establish a future work record by not skipping scheduled volunteer shifts. Demonstrate creative thinking and team player skills by asking questions and offering suggestions. Show initiative by being willing to do anything that needs doing --- without being asked.

About the Author

Joan Whetzel has been writing professionally since 1998. She has written juvenile nonfiction, movie and television scripts and adult nonfiction. Her juvenile nonfiction has appeared in such magazines as "Tech Directions," "Connect" and "Class Act." She was part of the production team that produced the documentary "Fuel for Thought" on Houston PBS. She has also written articles for Katy Magazine Online.

Photo Credits

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