How To Volunteer Your Time

As a single mom who is disabled, I often get bored sitting around wishing I could work again. When I can, I get out of the house and, because I love to help, I often give my time doing for others. Here are some ideas of how you can help make a difference in your community.

I believe that when we are blessed, we should bless back. More often that not, I don’t have a dollar in my pocket. However, I’m still rich and blessed. Why? Because I help others, and for me, there’s no feeling in the world that can truly compare to the joy of giving.

When I was working, I belonged to an online writing community. I had a great job and had money left over, so I often gave out gifts at the site. Sometimes, those gifts would be upgrades, enabling members there to store more of their work.

Sometimes, it would be a gift from their store, like a shirt or site monogramed writing implements, or a mug. While it did feel good to be able to gift these members, I didn’t always feel comfortable because I had money and they didn’t. So I began thinking of other ways to help which didn’t involve any money.

Shortly after I became disabled the first time, I began to volunteer at a local animal shelter. I simply showed up one day and told them to put me to work. And they sure did. I washed bowls, scooped poop, scrubbed kennels, cleaned litter boxes, did laundry and was able to play with some animals to boot.

The shelter was horribly understaffed as it was, so my help to them enabled them to attend to some other duties they had been putting off for some time. While I often could go just once a week, for a few hours, my being there was a big help.

All animal shelters appreciate any help at all they can get. If you cannot volunteer your time, they are always appreciative of cleaning supplies, paper towels, old blankets, towels, clothes, bowls, food, litter and toys. If you can help in any way, contact a local shelter and ask what specific help they need. They will appreciate you!

After I became disabled this second time, a friend told me her elderly ex-husband needed someone to clean for him once a week. Since I used to clean houses for a living, and I love our elderly, I jumped at the chance.

What was supposed to be a once a week deal turned into a daily visit. He’s unable to get around without a walker, and has limited use of his limbs, so I help him with meals, clean for him, do his laundry; anything he needs done, I’ll do it for him while I’m there.

If you want to help the elderly, some good places to call are hospice, a senior center or even your local police and/or fire department. Excellent ways to help the elderly are cleaning for them, running errands, fixing a meal, doing some laundry and even some things we deem simple such as rubbing them down with lotion, helping them change their clothes, even sitting and visiting with them for awhile. Each person is different, and all you need do is ask and they will let you know what they might need or want.

I live in a motel for now, and there is a wide variety of people here. Some are like me; a family in transition while others have been here for a few years and just work. I help them too, when I can. I babysit, do laundry for a couple of older men, do their dishes, clean, walk their pets.

Some of it, yes, I get paid for, and sometimes, I’m just bored and want to be able to do something. I’m sure in virtually every neighborhood there is a family or a person who would appreciate a favor from time to time.

Again, it just takes asking around. Maybe someone needs their grass cut, or their car cleaned, or their pet bathed. Perhaps they would love a “gift certificate” for a good housecleaning or a garage cleaning or even a massage, if that’s what you do, or a haircut. Each of us has talents and everyone wins when we can use those talents to help others.

If being around people or animals is not your thing, there are plenty of things you can do to help. Walk around any street with a bag and collect stray trash. Ask at your local police and/or fire department what you can do to help. Donate items to a shelter, consignment store, your local Red Cross or similiar organization, if you have anything you don’t need or want.

No matter how you choose to give of yourself to someone else, you are guaranteed to bring a smile to both your face and someone else’s, and the feeling you will get from giving of yourself is like no other. Good luck and give on!

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