You don’t need to have a lot of money or know celebrities to make a big change – there are a ton of things you can do right in your own community for FREE. Volunteering your time is a productive and positive way to lend a helping hand. Whether it’s walking dogs at the local animal shelter, passing out meals at your local hospital, or reading books to kids at the library, there are lots of different ways you can show your support.
1. Find a Cause You Care About
Volunteering can be a way to explore the subjects that are most important to you in life. Sometimes school or work doesn’t give us that opportunity, but as a volunteer, you can explore any subject under the sun. So what do you really care about? Who or what would you like to help? Which organizations share the same values and goals as you? How much of a time commitment are you willing to make? Will you get school credit for participating? These are all important questions you need to address before you sign up for anything. Once you have a clear direction of which way you want to go, you can start researching different organizations.
2. Do Your Research
Idealist.org is a great website for finding volunteer opportunities by location and subject. Idealist lists over 5,000 animal organizations both in the U.S. and abroad that are seeking volunteers. You could help fundraise for an animal orphanage, bring animals to visit people in hospitals, or help feed elephants in Thailand! Spend some time thinking about what your skills are and what you actually enjoy doing and then see if you can find an organization that is searching for just that type of volunteer.
3. Reach Out
Once you’ve narrowed down the organizations that interest you, reach out to them to see what opportunities they might have available to people in your age group. You can do this by emailing the address on their website or calling them on the phone. Tell them why you’re interested in working with them and when you’d be available to help out.
4. Attend Your First Event
Once you’ve signed up to volunteer, make sure you know what’s expected of you before you attend your first event. Do you need to fill out any paperwork? Do you need to bring any supplies? Be prepared and show up on time. When you are at your volunteer job, give it your all! Volunteering can be a wonderful way to gain professional skills and positive references. If you shine in your volunteer job, the organization will give you more and more responsibility and other interesting opportunities may open up for you. Volunteering can give you a great jumpstart on your career, so bring your best.
5. Pat Yourself on the Back
Whether you volunteer for one event or start volunteering somewhere weekly, give yourself a pat on the back! You contributed to something positive and helped make a difference in someone’s life. Helping others is such a rewarding experience, you’ll find yourself looking at ways you can do even more. Give back, have fun, make friends – everyone wins!
Ready to get started?
JulietteSpeaks is always looking for more people to help with the cause. To start on your path to helping endangered elephants, click the Get Involved tab on the website. It will prompt you from there and show you how you can get started on making a difference. You can also research local animal shelters in your town to see if they take on volunteers.
These animal organizations have great elephant programs and always need people to volunteer their time. Check them out:
- List of volunteer opportunities at lots of animals organizations (compiled by In Defense of Animals)
- Animal Defenders International
- Born Free
- Elephant Nature Park
Photo Credit: Elephant Kisses at Elephant Nature Park by onourownpath.com