Hope you all are having a wonderful Thanksgiving Weekend! Speaking of giving thanks, today I am going to talk about a few organizations we have here in St. Catharines that we should be thanking by volunteering our time. There is a lot of value in taking the time to volunteer for your community. I know some of you may feel as though you hit your 40 hour requirement in High School and therefore you’re done. But volunteering has a lot of benefits; connecting with new people, building upon your resume, feeling accomplished, making an impact…the list goes on!
You should consider a few things before selecting a volunteer experience. Keep in mind your interests. You’ll enjoy volunteering so much more if you choose a volunteer opportunity that allows you to do what you are passionate about. Pick a cause or organization that you care about, and follow your gut. Don’t select a volunteer opportunity that will have you outside most of the time if you hate being outside. No brainer, right? Once you’ve figured out what kind of volunteer experience you’d like to have, you need to pick an organization. In addition to larger organizations such as United Way, our community has a number of great local organizations you may be interested in getting involved with!
1. The RAFT
The RAFT is a community organization that provides support and programs for at-risk and homeless youth. Their aim is to empower youth, while providing shelter. There are many things that volunteers can do to help, assisting in everything from administrative support to organizing events and activities, as well as teaching life skills.
If you like eating and supporting your community, then come out to Food Not Bombs, a non-profit organization keen on recycling good food that would otherwise be thrown away. All food is vegan friendly and all are welcome. Food Not Bombs is in Montebello Park every Sunday from 3-5 PM till Oct 27.
The LCHS is a not-for-profit organization, committed to the humane treatment of animals, that provides rescue and rehabilitation for animals in need. You can help by offering up some of your time to socialize cats in the kitty corner or take one of their loveable pups for a walk. You can also help with other tasks at the humane society or get involved with one of their many events. These animals are in need of some tender loving care and for those of you who need their cuddle fix, this is the perfect solution.
Community Care of St. Catharines and Thorold provides services and support to individuals and families in need. The type of volunteer positions they have are warehouse staff, special event volunteers, food and clothing sorters, front desk receptionist, and more.
For those with a theatrical heart, Suitcase in Point may be the perfect place for you to volunteer. They are an ensemble theatre company and official partner of the In the Soil Arts Festival that provide laughter, insight and warm hearted story telling about the people of our community to our community. They are always looking for volunteers to help out with events such as In the Soil held every April.
The YWCA Niagara Region provides support, shelter and food to women and families living in poverty. They need women volunteers to do kitchen work, maintenance and housekeeping, front desk work, events and fundraising, Bingo support, as well as blog writing and social media.
Also, the YWCA is hosting the Niagara Leadership Summit for Women held at Brock on Oct 24, 2015.
Gillian’s Place is a safe place for abused women and their children to go when in need of shelter, food and support. Volunteers are needed for many different things including donation sorting, shelter care and maintenance, fundraising, etc.
Interested in mentoring? Join Big Brothers Big Sisters which pairs interested volunteers with children and youth from the community. As a Big Brother or Big Sister you spend one or two afternoons a month doing fun things together such as going to the park, baking, doing crafts, all while providing mentorship. Being a Big Brother or Big Sister can result in a life changing relationship for both of you.
Habitat for Humanity Niagara aims to provide affordable housing for people in the community. There are many ways you can volunteer with Habitat for Humanity Niagara. You can be a restore volunteer, which consists of preparing donated materials to be resold, sorting and pricing merchandise, and customer service. Or, you can work on the salvage team, removing kitchens, bathrooms, windows and other items that can be sold from the homes being renovated. You can also be an event volunteer, office volunteer, or committee volunteer. You can also join a house build. Lastly, you could volunteer abroad! Take reading week to travel to El Salvador with other Brock students and participate in a home build through Habitat for Humanity. For more information on the Brock trip check out Brock Cares Alternative Reading Week.
10. Greening Niagara
If you are passionate about the environment and feel strongly about climate issues, Greening Niagara is a passion project start up that you’ll want to get involved with. Their aim is to make this world a greener place through educational outreach, programs and resources, and promotion of green lifestyle changes. They need volunteers for gardening, tree planting, fund-raising and events, communications and conservation education.
You can get involved with any of these community organizations by contacting them through their websites. And of course there are so many other amazing initiatives that you should get involved with. Check out Experience BU, careerZone, Student Life and Community Experience and Niagara Volunteer Connections for more volunteer opportunities! If you know of any, please tell us in the comments below!