When I moved back to Atlanta, I knew one of the first things I wanted to do was find an organization that I could volunteer with. One that would allow me to build a relationship with someone or someones. Something I could do on a consistent basis.
For me, that ended up being with World Relief, serving in the refugee community here in Atlanta. I was partnered with the sweetest family from the Central African region, and have been going to their home once a week to help the mom with her English. What started out as an English lesson for the mom has turned into English lessons for the family. Or sometimes it’s an afternoon of soccer with the kids. Or it looks like showing up at the hospital for moral support when the father has emergency surgery. Or like last night, it looks like standing in the kitchen with the mom, cutting up potatoes and carrots for dinner, and then sitting down with them.
They are not just an opportunity for me to serve, but they have become family to me. And my weekly time with them is not a burden, but something to prioritize and look forward to. Like you would dinner with a friend.
But, I say all this because, I NEVER thought I would be able to serve in this way here in America. Much less, Atlanta. And then I started thinking about you. And maybe there is something specific that YOU are passionate about, or interested in, or a specific group of people. And I’m willing to bet that there’s a volunteer opportunity for that.
You want to jump on the rescuing sex trafficking victims wagon? Just google the phrase and the city and organizations doing just that pop up.
You have a knack for knitting? You can find organizations where you teach children or those in nursing homes how to knit! Or you can knit squares in the comfort of your home and donate the squares to be sent to children overseas who will use it to keep warm!
You have an interest in the Middle East/Iraqi culture? You can walk alongside a family that has just moved here and show them how to navigate the city – public transportation. The grocery store. How to use a washer/dryer.
You love animals? Foster a pet until they find their forever home. Or just stop by a shelter and love on them for a little while!
You have a soft spot for those serving in the military? Join a welcoming committee at the airport for those returning. Watch one of their pets while they are deployed. Pay for their dinner when you see them out at a restaurant. Walk alongside the wounded. Listen to their stories.
You’re passionate about fitness and exercise? Volunteer on the weekends to teach yoga to senior citizens, or soccer to kids.
You don’t really want the commitment but would like to help out when you can? Habitat for Humanity takes Saturday workers to build houses. Three Oh We Go passes out blankets, gloves and socks to the homeless on nights that it reaches 30 or below.
You understand technology? Teach the blind, or the deaf, or adults, or senior citizens how to use an iPad. Or a fancy smart phone.
Want something you can do with your kids? Adopt a family for Christmas. Or get a peanut butter and jelly sandwich line going in your kitchen, then head out to the streets and pass out brown paper bag lunches.
You wish your grown children would make you a grandparent but they haven’t yet and you are itching to read stories to kids? You can be a Foster Grandparent! You can read stories to children in transitional homes and schools!
Ask your friends who have kids if you can watch their kids so they can have a date night one night! Clean out your closets and if you have a jacket you’ve been meaning to get rid of because it’s too small, throw it in your car in case you pass someone on the street who needs it! See someone with a sign saying they are hungry – don’t just pass them by, pick up a meal for them and drop if off to them. Ask their name. Or, (gasp), sit and eat with them.
Volunteering can be as involved or uninvolved as you’d like it to be. It’s all important. And there are so many people in the world, in your city, in your community, that would just like someone to come alongside them and walk with them. Take a chance. Google that random thing that you would like to spend time volunteering with, and you just may find that it is already out there waiting for you. And if it’s not? I challenge you to start it yourself.
*Every volunteer opportunity mentioned above actually exists and CAN BE found in Atlanta by doing a quick google search.