Getting Involved – Volunteer

I hear the same two questions from a lot of students:

  1. How and where can I meet more Americans?
  2. What can I do after I graduate from ESL/ERV?

Many students want to know how they can get involved in the community. American communities aren’t the same as communities in other countries. Neighbors don’t always know each other, and if you don’t have a job, it can be difficult to meet Americans.

Over the next few months, we will look at several ways you can participate in your community. This month, our topic is volunteering. Volunteering is very common in the United States, and there are many organizations that accept volunteer workers. You just have to find an organization that you care about. Here are some suggestions.

photo credit: P1000275 via photopin (license)

photo credit: P1000275 via photopin (license)

Rebuilding Together of the Triangle – Do you like building things, working with tools, painting, learning construction skills, or helping people? You might want to volunteer with Rebuilding Together! This organization fixes (repairs) and updates homes for low-income people. Many of them are retired (too old to work) or disabled (not able to work, physically), and their houses have a lot of problems. Rebuilding Together uses volunteers to make these houses safe and comfortable again, and they can teach you how to do simple jobs if you don’t know how.

Wake County Public Libraries – Do you like books, reading, or organizing? The public library system might have the perfect job for you! Volunteers at the library help keep the library organized and pretty. Click here for an application to volunteer at your local library. Print the application, and take it to the library where you would like to volunteer.

Raleigh Rescue Mission – Did you know that more than 1,100 people in Raleigh don’t have a place to sleep at night? The Raleigh Rescue Mission is a Christian organization that helps these people, but you do not have to be a Christian to volunteer. You can volunteer to prepare and serve food, work with children, work in a store, answer the phone and talk with visitors, or help an adult who is preparing to take the GED test. Go here to see which volunteer jobs are available and fill out an application.

SPCA of Wake County – Do you love animals? The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is an organization that protects animals and tries to find good homes for them. Click here to see a list of volunteer opportunities.

Ten Thousand Villages – Do you like shopping, sales, home decorations, talking with people, or helping people earn money to support their families? You should consider volunteering at Ten Thousand Villages. It is a store that sells fair trade products. This means that the people who make the products earn a fair amount of money for them. Many people in other countries work very hard to make products, but they receive only a little money. Fair trade means that people get paid a good price for their products.

Hospitals – Do you like helping people who are sick? Are you interested in healthcare? Maybe you should look for volunteer opportunities at one of the hospitals in the area. You don’t need medical knowledge or experience to volunteer at a hospital. They have many different ways for you to get involved. For volunteer information at Rex Hospital, click here. For information on volunteer opportunities at all Wake Med Hospital locations, go here. And to find out how you can volunteer at Duke University Hospital, visit this site.

Inter-Faith Food Shuttle – Do you care about food education, feeding hungry people, nutrition, or gardening? You might be interested in the work of the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle. This organization’s goal is to end hunger in our area. Many people don’t have enough money to buy food for their families. There are also areas where it’s difficult to find fresh, healthy food. The Inter-Faith Food Shuttle gives food to people who need it. They also teach people about food, cooking, nutrition, and gardening so that they can get jobs, make healthy meals, and grow their own food. Go here to see all the ways you can volunteer with this organization.

photo credit: IMG_0248 via photopin (license)

photo credit: IMG_0248 via photopin (license)

Girl Scouts/Boy Scouts – The Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts of America are two organizations for children and teenagers. Both groups teach young people about responsibility, character (being a good person), team work, and citizenship so that they can make the world a better place. Click here to learn more about volunteering with the Girl Scouts. Go here if you are interested in volunteering with the Boy Scouts of America. And if you have children between the ages of 5 and 18 years old, these organizations are a great way for them to get involved in the community!

Schools – Did you know that you can volunteer at your child’s school? Many teachers love having parent volunteers in their classrooms, but you can also volunteer in the school’s office or library. In middle and high schools, you might be able to volunteer with a sports team or club. You can also join the PTA (Parent-Teacher Association) or PTSA (Parent-Teacher-Student Association) at your child’s school for more volunteer opportunities. Check your school’s website for PTA/PTSA information, or ask your child’s teacher or the school secretary how you can help.

InterAct – InterAct is an organization that helps, protects, and educates women who have been victims of domestic violence (violence, danger, harm, injury at home), rape (sex without permission/agreement), or sexual assault. If a woman’s husband/boyfriend hurts her, she (and her children) can go to InterAct for help. There are many ways you can volunteer with InterAct. You can work with the women and their children, you can help in the office, you can help with special projects, and more. Click here to see all the ways you can volunteer.

Other Volunteer Opportunities

If you aren’t interested in any of the organizations above, there are PLENTY more places you can volunteer. The following websites can help you find a volunteer job that you will love:

Your Turn

Discuss these questions with your classmates:

  1. Is volunteering common/popular in your country? Why/why not?
  2. Have you ever done volunteer work?
  3. Is volunteering a good way to spend your time? Why/why not?
  4. Why do you think there are so many opportunities to volunteer in the US?
  5. Which programs listed here would be good for people who don’t speak much English? Which programs would be good for advanced students?
  6. What kind of volunteer job would you like to do? Why?
  7. What kind of volunteer job would you NOT like to do? Why?
  8. Do you think children should volunteer? Why/why not?
  9. What kinds of volunteer projects can families do together?
  10. Choose an organization above that has group volunteering activities. Would you enjoy volunteering there with your classmates? Why/why not?