Monday, January 20, 2014

MLK Day and Helping Out Your Community

Today is Martin Luther King Jr Day and part of the holiday involves doing volunteer work in the community.  While doing a day of service is a good idea, volunteering regularly in your community has a range of positive benefits--you get to help people in your community, you get to learn some valuable skills, you make friends, and you may even get some freebies and rewards for your service (ie: a free meal if you volunteer at a soup kitchen, etc).  Here are ten places to volunteer that will give you not only skills and the satisfaction of helping people, but other side benefits as well:

  1. Your local non-profit shooting range (these places are usually staffed by a lot of volunteers and can often use any help you can provide).
  2. Your local Search and Rescue group (these are often coordinated through city, county, or non-associated SAR groups and provide very useful training)
  3. Your local Red Cross (this organization has offices in many communities and can almost always use volunteers)
  4. Become an EMT (with a two month course, often free if you agree to volunteer, you will be able to provide a very needed service in your community; ask at your local fire department/ambulance company for details)
  5. Become a volunteer fire fighter (many fire departments in rural areas rely very heavily on community volunteers; free training is provided)
  6. Your local Department of Emergency Management (in addition to Search and Rescue, and sometimes in combination with it, your local Department of Emergency Management can often use volunteers to help with their programs and response efforts)
  7.  Use your special skills to volunteer in your community (ie: HAM radio operators often volunteer with ARES and RACES, doctors volunteer with disaster response organizations, dentists volunteer their services at community health fairs, SCORE, VISTA, etc).
  8. Use your non-special skills to help out at non-profits in your community (everything from domestic violence shelters to food pantries to free meals for the homeless to Habitat for Humanity can use volunteers--training is provided).
  9. For longer term commitments consider becoming a Big Brother/Big Sister, a Boy Scout Troop leader, etc.
  10. Volunteer to help people you have an affinity for (veterans, those in hospice, at a hospital, through your church, with the homeless, etc).

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