This week, we celebrate National Volunteers Week. What does that mean, exactly? Well, several organizations take time to recognize volunteers and their efforts. Several dinners and award ceremonies are held across the nation. For any other person, though, this means...recognizing you have the ability to make a change in someones life. Set aside a couple of hours to volunteer somewhere in your community, or make a longer commitment to your favorite organization. There are so many opportunities out there for us to make a difference. If you start this week, chances are you'll keep going. I know I probably seem cheesy or unrealistic, but I firmly believe that happiness and helping others is the way to make this world better. So many of us sit back and think "well, I'd like to help, but...". No more buts. Get up and do something.
Try checking out these websites for your local volunteer opportunities:
www.idealist.org. Offers a database that allows nonprofits to list their volunteer opportunities throughout the world.
www.christianvolunteering.org. Organizations across the US and internationally may post opportunities as a local volunteer, virtual volunteer, short term missionary, or intern.
www.volunteermatch.org The largest volunteer match/database site.
Or, volunteer at some of these organizations.
-Big Brothers Big Sisters, if you're looking for a longer commitment. I cannot say enough good things about this organization. I am passionate about mentoring and motivating youth, especially since I work with them every day and see how easily heart broken and hurt they can be. When kids have a mentor, their lives will be better. Period. Go to www.bbbs.org to search for your local branch and become a big brother or big sister today. You can volunteer at various events that they hold.
-Habitat for Humanity. A Christian ministry that helps provide housing for families and individuals. You can volunteer locally and help build homes! Go to http://www.habitat.org/cd/local/default.aspx to search for your area.
-Animal Shelters. Everyone loves animals, right? They are always in need of help, walking them or helping feed them. Long term? Adopt a pet :) www.animalshelter.org
-American Red Cross. One of the biggest organizations in the world, Red Cross helps individuals struck by disaster or tragedy. They are always looking for volunteers for blood drives or to distribute supplies. www.redcross.org
-Meals on Wheels, Food Banks, Soup Kitchen's. People are starving, everywhere. They are ALWAYS needing people to help distribute food, put together packages, deliver meals, and serve food. Google your local food bank or soup kitchen :)
Whatever you do, do it with a smile. You can make someone else's day just by being positive. Be strong in who you are, and you can help others on their path. Oh, and while you're at it, if you have volunteers at your organization, thank them.