Why Not Volunteer this Summer?
Summer is here. School is almost done. The question on everyone’s mind: How will you spend your summer? If you are looking to get more out of your summer vacation, consider volunteering! You will learn new skills, gain great experience for work or school, and meet tons of new people. Volunteering is also a great way to learn something new that you’re curious about, but may not be familiar with. You might discover a new passion, or a future career. Deciding where to volunteer is tough. Most towns and cities have many volunteer options, and figuring out the best fit can be the hardest part. A good first step is to think about talents you have, activities you enjoy, or activities you are curious about but have never experienced. Then you can look for related volunteer opportunities. Ask yourself, “Am I interested in…”
- Plants, Nature, or Gardening? Your local Horticultural Society may run projects such as community flower and vegetable gardens, or planting projects in public spaces.
- Kids and Sports? Facilities such as the YMCA or Boys & Girls Club, and community youth sport leagues, often need helpers to assist with their programs and activities.
- Kids and Books? Public libraries offer literacy and activity oriented summer programs for kids and youths, such as games, group story time, or buddy reading.
- Working with Animals? Local animal shelters often need volunteers to assist with cleaning cages and socializing the animals.
- Medicine or Working with the Elderly? Many hospitals and nursing homes operate programs for volunteers to visit with patients and residents, and engage them in activities like games, crafts, and exercises.
- Arts and Culture? Summer is ripe with events and festivals that rely on volunteers, such as outdoor music festivals, artisan and craft fairs, or performance theatre events such as those run by the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals. Summer is also fan convention season, and many cons, such as FanExpo Canada, have volunteer opportunities for a few hours, all day, or all weekend.
- Working with your hands? Habitat for Humanity and similar programs in your area are often most active in the summer months, and usually need extra hands when there are projects in progress.
- Social Services and Non-Profit? Most Canadian cities have food banks, Goodwill and Salvation Army facilities, and a host of other community non-profit companies and programs, all of which rely on volunteers to support their efforts in your community.
Of course, these are only a few of the options available. Regardless of what type of volunteering you find yourself interested in, the second step is always… Do Your Research! If the event or organization has a website, check to see if their volunteering needs are posted; if not, use the contact information to inquire. Make sure you learn what tasks will be required or assigned to you, if there are any age requirements or restrictions, and how much of a time commitment they will expect from you. Once you decide on your volunteer opportunity, step three is… HAVE FUN!