One of the best ways to improve your own mood as well as uplift the community around you is to volunteer your time and talents toward meaningful work. We’ve rounded up five public service and volunteer opportunities that you can start today—no prior training required.
In addition to boosting your own mental and emotional health, volunteering at a shelter provides much-needed services to rescue organizations that are often have limited staff. Brush up on your office skills and spend time with stressed or lonely animals, which in turn gives them comfort and helps their personalities shine. Shelters are almost always in need of volunteers, from dog-walkers to feline companions to bathing assistants. Contact your local shelter to find volunteer opportunities in your area.
Local food banks and soup kitchens rely on the help of volunteers to organize, raise money and offer a helping hand in sorting and packaging meals. Skills such as data entry, fundraising and cooking can be of great value to these organizations. Check out FoodPantries.org to search for a location near you.
In an increasingly digital world, libraries still have a large impact on their local economy and communities. Make valuable contacts in your area, build new relationships and gain the satisfaction of knowing you have made a difference in your community by volunteering at your local library. Libraries need assistants to organize shelves, plan events and assist patrons. Ask your library how you can offer your unique skills to both bolster your resume and help meet their needs.
Volunteering your time in a nursing home can be a rewarding and life-altering experience. In addition to enhancing residents’ lives and supporting families, you may gain a new perspective on life. Retirees are eager to learn about new and interesting topics, so if you have skills or information that would be useful as a lecture or class, offer to host a program at your local senior living facility. If you’re good with technology, use your knowledge to teach senior citizens how to use a computer or smartphone. Visit a retirement home in your community to see how you can best assist.
No candidate gets to the top without tons of volunteers and organizers who make it happen. If you’re passionate about politics, lend a hand to a local candidate you support. Political campaigns need volunteers to run phone banks, distribute fliers, raise money and canvass neighborhoods. You will gain valuable experience and a network of contacts, along with the satisfaction of knowing you made a difference.
Volunteering transforms both our communities and ourselves, offering valuable life skills and challenging our perspectives. Giving to others also helps combat anxiety and depression, reduces stress and provides a sense of purpose. It doesn’t need to be a long-term commitment, either. Giving in small ways can help those in need and improve your own health and wellbeing.
Jacquelyn Nause is a contributing writer with specialties in cannabis, real estate and wellness. She enjoys traveling with her husband, being a doting mother to her two incredible kids and enjoying the beautiful Pacific Northwest playground. Follow her on Instagram @callmejacquelyn.