Hello, fellow Lions. I hope this post finds your summers not too stressful, and not too hot. Over my way in California, our weather system has yet to decide if the June gloom will be able to prevail against the blasting rays of the July sun. We shall see.
At Penn State, thousands of students volunteer at THON each February in State College. But there are countless opportunities for Penn Staters across the world to give back to their communities. Photo courtesy: Penn State (via Flickr).
I feel like a second should be taken to consider volunteering during the summer, whether you’re taking courses or not. Granted, it is much easier for those not going to class to find an opportunity, but for all of you admirable individuals who are taking classes, there are opportunities for you as well!
Three Ways to Find Volunteer Opportunities
One resource I’ve utilized over the years and have found to be reliable is volunteermatch.org. You can input your location and search for seemingly unlimited amounts of volunteer opportunities to choose from. Or, if you wish to create an account, part of the process is selecting different categories that interest you, such as Animals or Human Rights and finding opportunities that way. You can also look up local, physical opportunities, as well as virtual ways in which to lend a helping hand.
For those of us not taking classes, and for those who are, Volunteer Match makes it very simple to get involved and more importantly, engaged in what is happening in our local communities.
Another option perhaps for those with a little bit more time to dedicate is volunteering with the American Red Cross. Opportunities range from serving as a Board Member to helping with marketing and fundraising endeavors to serving as a disaster relief team member, to even helping with clerical work, which may also give you good experience for your resume.
The Red Cross has no shortage of chances to help the organization help others, and is definitely worth looking into, should you be able to volunteer on a regular basis.
One last one I’d like to touch on is Feeding America. Feeding America is a non-profit organization of food banks dedicated to feeding nearly 40 million people in the United States. This is done through soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and food pantries set up across the country. Naturally, volunteers are needed here.
Opportunities range from clerical work to tutoring children being fed, to spreading the word about Feeding America’s mission. If you have a social media account and one minute, this is the perfect chance to show some support for an organization doing good work!
Why Volunteering is Important to Me
To put into words the impact volunteering has had on me as a person is both difficult and all too easy. Volunteering offers a way to practice empathy. More than that, and selfishly, it has also allowed me the chance to forget my own troubles and daily stressors, and focus on a picture bigger than myself. This has then helped me return to my own situations and looking at them with a much more humbled expression, realizing that ‘Hey, maybe things aren’t so bad after all.’
Whether it was my Meals on Wheels experience, or my exceptionally eye-opening campaign to supply my city’s homeless men and women with backpacks of supplies, volunteering has not only changed my outlook on worries, but also my outlook on life itself.
Of course there are many other ways to volunteer in your community, and I encourage everyone to look into their respective city’s own website to find some of them. Or, perhaps visit your favorite small business and ask if they could use a hand. A simple shout-out on a social media site, or a positive review online could really make an impact. (The business student in me shines forth!)
The ultimate point I hope to make here is that even though summer is our time to relax (some of us more than others), we should keep in mind that it’s also a chance to enrich our lives with something completely outside of ourselves — volunteering. One day, one hour, one minute, whatever the duration, the most important thing is to go for it!
Fall semester will be upon us soon enough, and we’ll once again be wrapped up in upcoming holidays, school work, and regular life. For a time let us focus on things that don’t just impact us. Let us find a cause we can get behind, one that we feel a connection to, and support it in any way possible.
What do you think, Lions? Do you have any other resources that you rely on to find volunteer opportunities?
Have a lovely July, everyone. And in the wise, wonderful words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
To good experiences, and better lives,