Monday, May 11, 2015

Brighten Someone’s Day - and your own - by Volunteering

Brighten Someone’s Day - and your own - by Volunteering

You may have noticed that you felt happier after volunteering for a great cause. An article on altruism and happiness on PBS explains that acts of kindness make people happier because it provides a sense of community with others, it helps people be more compassionate and find the good in others and it boosts people's self-esteem.

With so many ways to get involved and volunteer in your community, it can be hard to know where to start. Consider some of the following suggestions found below:

Global Volunteering

Do you want to volunteer in a big way? Are you looking for a reason to travel internationally? Look for worldwide programs, such as Doctors Without Borders, International Volunteer Programs Association or Global Volunteers. These programs can find you volunteer opportunities throughout the world based on your preferences and skills.

Food Banks

If you prefer to stay local, food banks or soup kitchens are a great choice because they are in most cities. Volunteering positions might include managing food intake and distribution or preparing the food for those in need. So, if you're a kitchen whiz, this could be the position for you.

Building Homes

If you like working outside and with your hands, consider volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. The organization builds homes for those in need. If working with wood and a hammer isn't for you, there are a plethora of other volunteer positions available. Check out its website if you want more information.

Children's Hospitals

Children in hospital care often have to miss out on classic childhood experiences, such as field trips, sports, after-school activities and trick-or-treating on Halloween. You can help brighten their Halloween by dressing up in full costume while you volunteer. Pick a kid-friendly costume like a super hero or a silly full-body morphsuit.

Disaster Relief Organizations

If you desire to help people in the most desperate of situations, consider working for a disaster relief organization. One of the furthest-reaching and longest established organizations is the American Red Cross. Its workforce is composed of about 90 percent volunteers, who respond to about 70,000 disasters each year.


If you are a voracious reader, consider sharing your passion with kids. After all, strong reading and writing skills are fundamental to children's future success. There are many organizations that serve to increase literacy where you can volunteer. One such organization, 826, offers reading and writing programs in seven major cities. Learn more on the 826 website.


If you are an animal lover, consider volunteering at your local humane society. You can walk dogs, play with cats, help with adoptions or assist with general office work. Don't forget your furry friends when thinking of those in need.

Homeless Shelters

If you live in a medium to large city, chances are you have a local homeless shelter. These shelters need volunteers to distribute meals, run programs and collect clothes and materials. If you are qualified, you could even provide counseling or job training, and help instill others with skills that will last a lifetime.