Wednesday, June 1, 2016

10 Excellent Volunteer Opportunities

Looking for ways to spend your summer that will decrease your costs and increase your skills?  Look no further than the many volunteer opportunities that abound in your community.

  1. Search and Rescue.  Many communities have Search and Rescue organizations that rely on volunteers to help those in need.  From people lost in the wilderness to helping search urban areas for runaways, this organization will give you a number of technical skills (wilderness search, camping, incident management, etc) that you can use in your everyday life.
  2. HAM radio club.  Unfortunately HAM radio is, while still extremely useful, dying off in many areas, mostly because the club members are upwards of 70 and there are no younger folks to take their place.  HAM radio clubs are interesting, you learn a lot, and you can put your skills to use during a disaster by volunteering with ARES/RACES if needed.
  3. Volksmarch club.  Again, like many clubs, the folks who have volunteered all of their lives are now "ageing out" and new blood is needed to keep these clubs going.  By joining a volksmarch club and volunteering your time and effort you will not only get in shape (they walk three to six miles or more each weekend) but you will also learn route-finding skills as well as organizational skills.
  4. Red Cross.  Most communities have a Red Cross office which uses volunteers for all manner of lifesaving efforts.  From manning shelters to helping out at blood drives to teaching CPR, the Red Cross has a multitude of volunteer opportunities that will improve your skills and allow you to give back to your community.
  5. EMT.  Many communities, both small and large, rely on volunteer first responders of the medical sort (namely EMRs--emergency medical responders--and EMTs--emergency medical technicians).  While the training may take a good bit of time in addition to drill nights and continuing education, the medical education and experience you will get with such a job will pay dividends for the rest of your life!
  6. Firefighter.  This often goes hand-in-hand with volunteer EMTs, but again, many rural fire departments wouldn't exist without volunteers from their community that come when a citizen calls 911.  You will learn a great set of skills and the everlasting gratitude of those in your community.
  7. Parks.  City, county, state, and federal parks are all at the mercy of government funding and, as you may know, funds for these sorts of programs have been dwindling rapidly.  Enter the volunteers who can make a difference in a park being open or closed.  Besides spending time in the outdoors, teaching community members about various aspects of the park, and helping out with programs that are critical to the community, being a parks volunteer can often score you free annual passes and other nice freebies.
  8. FEMA.  When you see the aftermath of a disaster on the TV news, you will often see FEMA volunteers in the background.  While it isn't often glamorous work, volunteering to help out during a major disaster can be a rewarding and very educational opportunity.
  9. Scouts.  Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Brownies, Eagle Scouts...scouting organizations have been around for ages and for many kids, the activities of these groups were their first experience in learning basic preparedness skills.  Adult volunteers are critical to keep this opportunity alive for kids who may have no other way to go camping, learn orienteering, learn to sew, learn about responsibility, learn how to tie knots, etc.
  10. Gun Club.  Of course there are fancy (read--expensive) gun clubs around, but there are also many small gun clubs that are all volunteer organizations.  Volunteers are needed for everything from record keeping and running meetings to berm management and hunter sight-in events.  As an added bonus you often get free range time, opportunities to try out a variety of firearms, and the opportunity to learn a great deal about guns/gun handling from experts.

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