Volunteering in DC
May 19, 2009 10:02 PM   Subscribe

I'm a 20 year old male in the DC area (I live near East Falls Church Metro) with a pretty significant amount of free time on my hands for at least the next three months. I don't have a car, and can't drive. I'm looking to do something that will improve other people's lives.

I'm not concerned about any ideology (religious or otherwise) a group may have, but I'd prefer as little proselytizing as possible, and that it be a community uninterested in my beliefs. I'd like the work to be as direct and concrete as possible. Other than that I'm open to anything. Recommendations personal experience are especially appreciated.
posted by phrontist to Human Relations (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
One thing you might consider is volunteering for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. This can be a great experience, they need lots of people, the festival itself is great and you are guaranteed to meet lots of interesting people.
posted by gudrun at 10:15 PM on May 19, 2009

The Capitol Area Food Bank in Northeast is responsible for distributing all the food which goes to DC-area soup kitchens, non-profits, senior centers, etc. They have a ton of food to sort (I get the sense a lot during the week) and it's huge impact - you're literally feeding thousands of people.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 10:55 PM on May 19, 2009

Can you draw?
posted by rokusan at 11:14 PM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've had good experiences tutoring with the Horton's Kids organization for the past year, a well-run and surprisingly well-funded organization. Tutoring stops over summer, but they run a summer camp and need volunteers to help run specific activities and chaperone during trips to the pool, museums, etc. Email jen AT hortonskids.org if you're interested.
posted by gsteff at 11:34 PM on May 19, 2009

You could volunteer at the Lee Center (at the corner of Lee hwy and Lexington). They offer senior programs during the day, and it's not so far from home that you would have to worry about multiple modes of public transportation or wasting your day commuting to volunteer...in fact from your location, you could probably walk there!

Another interesting idea I've toyed around with is volunteering my time to help out a struggling small business. I like the idea because it would probably make more of an impact to the recipients of said volunteering than would the normal kind. There are plenty of [struggling] small businesses around here (and by here I mean where you live, because I live here too), and even volunteering a couple hours per day to work the cash register while the owners do owner-y things or distribute marketing flyers to houses could really make a difference to them.

Volunteer with a local theater troupe - Firebelly Productions is my personal favorite (great, really great shows and a crazy fun director) - they are usually blood thirsty for help, and if the show does well, may even pay you! The only problem with this is transportation, but the producer and director are fantastic about giving rides.

My head is swimming with all of the possibilities (probably because I can give specific advice about Arlington), so message me if you'd like to brainstorm
posted by Gonestarfishing at 5:42 AM on May 20, 2009

Anything you can do to help support DC schools- ie volunteer tutoring, after school clubs, other enrichment activities.
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 6:37 AM on May 20, 2009

To hellboundforcheddar's point, if you're looking for a charter school doing really good work that needs some tutors, try EL Haynes.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 7:20 AM on May 20, 2009

OneBrick has a variety of events that might suit your taste-- and you get to meet people. Quite a few are in Virginia, it looks like, but they don't give public transit directions to all events. I would think you could add a note to an event manager when you RSVP that you might be looking for a ride.

I do OneBrick events in the San Francisco area, and it's a lot of fun and an easy way to help your community.
posted by sarahnade at 9:08 AM on May 20, 2009

You could contact Volunteer Fairfax -- they help match individuals with opportunities. You could also check listings on idealist.org for the Falls Church/Arlington/Fairfax area.

My most specific recommendation is Positive Force DC. Two friends of mine had very meaningful service experiences with Positive Force DC. They helped with the grocery deliveries to low-income elderly folks. Check it out at http://www.positiveforcedc.org/.
posted by val5a at 9:35 AM on May 20, 2009

OMG, this is perfect for you: One Brick

The great thing about volunteering with one brick is that the people are generally younger, you don't have to make an ongoing commitment, and there's a social aspect as well.

Good luck!
posted by bananafish at 3:45 PM on May 20, 2009

I spent some of my free time in DC volunteering for an after-school program called Kid Power. It's a short walk from the Chinatown metro stop, and they are very flexible with scheduling and appreciative of help.

If you don't like kids, there are many other organizations available through www.volunteermatch.org, which is how I found Kid Power.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 4:15 PM on May 21, 2009

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