Volunteer Like You Mean It - Dirigo Collective | An Independent Media Co.

Volunteer Like You Mean It

It’s easy to hit a wall when looking for ways to help the less fortunate. Sometimes the small — and large — gestures we make towards the unhoused or elderly may feel fruitless when, in fact, the opposite may be true. As National Volunteer Month continues, staying motivated and committed to a cause you hold dear to your heart is vital in ensuring the good you put out into the world is received by those who need it. 

If you’re looking for ways to donate your time and resources this month and beyond, here are some great ways to channel your energy and spread some good. 

Pro-Tip: VolunteerMatch is a great resource for connecting volunteers with inspiring causes and the nonprofits behind them. Simply type your city or zip code to find opportunities big and small near you. 

Mentor a Child

According to stats posted by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island, 87% of mentored children were able to maintain or improve their educational expectations. Impressed? 94% of “Littles” who graduate high schools go on to college. Mentorship works. If you want to be a mentor, but are looking for a bit more guidance on topics, Girls Write Now serves both culturally and educationally diverse girls (and gender nonconforming youth) through a mentorship based on the written word. This intrepid organization pairs girls of various backgrounds with professional writers who serve as, both, mentors and role models by helping girls navigate life while finding their voice. 

Donate Books

No matter your preferred genre, everyone has at least a couple of books they know in their hearts will not be read. Instead of letting them collect dust or leaving them in a box marked free on the sidewalk, you can donate your copy of Infinite Jest to your local library or prison. The aptly-named website, Prison Book Program, lists the various ways your unread or unwanted books can go change the lives of people who are incarcerated while making it ridiculously easy to donate. Pro-tip: Dictionaries are one of the most-requested books for prisons as they provide a resource for those with limited-reading skills. 

Get Your Pup Involved

For a more outside-the-box approach to helping those less fortunate than you, look no further than Therapy Dogs International. Founded in 1976 in New Jersey, TDI is a volunteer organization that regulated and registers therapy dogs (along with their owners) for hospitals, nursing homes, and wherever else therapy dogs can brighten someone’s day. 

Clean Up the Ocean 

Ocean Conservancy has been on the never-ending quest for trash-free seas for 40 years and needs your help. With over 600,000 volunteers working hard to reduce the amount of plastics in the ocean and pushing for effective ocean policies, Ocean Conservancy uses science-based solutions to protect our oceans and the wildlife communities within. Donating is easy, becoming the kind of person who takes an active role in picking up trash on a beach vacation is the the sort of dedication that helps Ocean Conservancy succeed. 

Give Free Rice

You gotta hand it to the developers behind Freerice — a trivia game that uses pop-up ads to trigger financial payments to the World Food Programme. It’s ridiculously clever and just as to use; answer the question and collect points which goes directly to fund rice and emergency/nutritional needs. 

Help the Homeless

It seems daunting, we know. How can one person possibly defeat a problem as widespread as homelessness? One person cannot, but with many people there’s hope. Volunteers of America is a nonprofit organization that works to put an end to homelessness by offering support services like eviction prevention, transitional housing, and emergency services. With more 16,000 paid employees helping more than 1.5 million people in over 400 communities per year, VOA’s dedication to improving the lives of many is nothing short of inspiring. 

Get Your Hands Dirty

Since Habitat for Humanity was found in 1976, more than 29 million people have taken an active role of constructing, rehabilitating, or preserving the homes of millions. Working across all 50 states (not to mention 70 countries), Habitat for Humanity’s vision is providing families in need with stability and self-reliance by helping soon-to-be homeowners, both, build a house and pay a fair mortgage. Along with small-scale projects, Habitat for Humanity partners with community leaders and organizations as part of their neighborhood revitalization work to address pertinent issues within communities. 

Volunteer Your Voice 

Not all of us have the time or money to spend time building a house or mentoring a child. That’s why we love VocaliD — a voice AI company that uses state-of-the-art machine learning and speech blending algorithms to provide a voice for those who don’t have one. Literally. VocaliD provides unique digital voices to assist and uplift those who rely on assistive technologies, effectively pairing people with vocal personalities.