Volunteering and getting involved in your local community is a rewarding way to meet new people, make friends, network professionally, find jobs, and contribute to causes that you believe in. You can also gain experience working that you can put on your resume and use to get a paying job in a field which interests you.
There are plenty of places that are always looking for volunteers to help out. Think about things you care about and are interested in – what causes do you support? Maybe animals are your thing, so volunteering at a local animal shelter would be a good fit. Want to get involved, but can’t think of any particular place to start? Consider any of the following:
- Community centers like the YMCA or Boy’s & Girl’s Club
- Churches, Synagogues, Mosques, and other houses of religion
- Day care centers
- Community theaters like The Flynn Performing Arts Center in downtown Burlington
- Historical societies and museums like the Shelburne Museum
- Summer camps and programs
- Art galleries
- Food bank or soup kitchen, for example the Chittenden County Food Shelf
- “Green Up” Days or Community Clean Up days
- Public School After-School Programs
- Local sports teams
- Reading with Children/Reading to People with Visual Disabilities
But once you identify WHERE you’d like to volunteer and get involved, you might be wondering HOW to get involved and do it?
One of the best resources we’ve found is this guide, Making a Difference: How to Become and Remain Active in Your Community.
You can also start attending local community meetings. By sitting, listening, and even asking questions, you’re directly contributing to your community. If you have an issue that you want to be address, going to an open town hall meeting in your town can give you an opportunity to speak directly with your town’s leadership, who are always looking for help and committed and motivated people who are interested in solving community problems.
Of course, there are also ways to contribute to your community that don’t require a lot of time commitment. If you’re limited on time, but want to help make a difference, consider things like donating blood with the American Red Cross.
There are also formal, paying programs, like the Corporation for National and Community Service, which is run directly by the White House and offers a number of paid and unpaid internship-type of volunteer programs that can give you valuable experience in a number of areas. See their guide on How to Get Involved if this sounds like it’s up your alley.
- Be proactive! You’ll find that a world of opportunities opens up when you seek them out.
- Be your own advocate! Don’t be afraid to speak your mind, advocate for yourself, and share what you really think. Taking small risks like this are a good way to expand your comfort zone and make it even larger.
- Believe in Yourself! Yeah, we know, you may hear this all the time. But the more you believe in yourself and the more confident you are, the better job you can do to helping others. Volunteering is a great way to also get your self-esteem and confidence up. Remember: the more you give, the more you get.