Looking for non-religious volunteer work in the Pittsburgh area
June 4, 2012 7:19 PM   Subscribe

What kinds of volunteer work could I do that might give opportunities to get to know others, particularly in the Pittsburgh area?

I'm basically asking this same question, except in the Pittsburgh area. But my only previous volunteering experience was for a political campaign back in 2004 as part of a school project. I didn't mind that and plan to do more political volunteer work this year, but it would be nice to have other options as well.

I'm 26 and just finished a general Associate's Degree, with plans to go back to school next year. And I'm finding myself sick of the dead end job I've been at for the past 4 years, so I'm looking for ways to possibly get a better idea of work I'd find meaningful or enjoyable, do some networking, find job references, build up my resume, and just make friends. On top of all that, of course, I'd like to make a difference and get a sense that I'm helping others.

I've just started seriously looking into volunteering local to Pittsburgh and have had trouble finding much of interest. One problem is that a few of the volunteer jobs I've seen so far are church sponsored or otherwise religious in nature. I personally consider myself atheist/agnostic and don't like the idea of doing volunteer work in the name of a god I don't believe in. Habitat for Humanity had interested me until I saw the headline at the top of their homepage.

So any suggestions for volunteer work in the Pittsburgh area where I could get out and meet people, without having any particular dogmas shoved down my throat, would be great.
posted by Ryogen to Human Relations (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I loved my time volunteering with Prevention Point (needle exchange), Planned Parenthood, and Pittsburgh Action Against Rape, if any of those fit your political leanings, and would be happy to tell you more about the experience of volunteering for any of them.

I believe the Carnegie Library website used to have a prett extensive listing of local organizations in need of volunteers. You might check that out to look for other nonreligious-leaning places to volunteer.
posted by Stacey at 7:29 PM on June 4, 2012

Pittsburgh Cares is an affiliate of the Hands On Network. Affiliates usually provide opportunities at a lot of different agencies (ours here in Charlotte serves more than 100). The cool thing is, it's flexible volunteering with no set time commitment, and you can try out different organizations until you find one you love.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 7:32 PM on June 4, 2012

Global Links packages and sends surplus medical supplies to communities in need, local and international. They are always looking for volunteers, and you'll be working with others.

Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank is another great choice.
posted by check engine at 7:58 PM on June 4, 2012

The Pittsburgh Botanic Garden is currently under construction and looking for volunteers.

If that's your kinda thing you might also try Phipps.
posted by pilibeen at 8:28 PM on June 4, 2012

One more along the same lines...the Western PA Conservancy
posted by pilibeen at 8:30 PM on June 4, 2012

Free Ride
posted by knile at 1:16 AM on June 5, 2012

If you're an animal person, Animal Friends is always looking for volunteers, as is the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society.
posted by namewithoutwords at 6:43 AM on June 5, 2012

I had great experiences with Habitat for Humanity in Pittsburgh. Don't let the Christian roots of the organization put you off, I went and built houses with the JCC and as long as you can swing a hammer and cut dry-wall, they're happy to have you! There is NO Christian discussion, the mission is to build affordable housing.

Not only that, buy you'll learn a shit-ton of useful skills for when you become a homeowner.

You can volunteer at UPMC if that interests you.

But really, if building turns you on, try Habitat.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:56 AM on June 5, 2012

Pittsburgh has a prison book program. From my experience with a similar program local to me, the work involves reading letters from prisoners and sending them appropriate books, and is generally pretty flexible. The volunteer website makes this sound like a program that welcomes all religious backgrounds.
posted by pie ninja at 8:20 AM on June 5, 2012

One super-interesting project in Pittsburgh that you might check out is Operation Safety Net, run by Dr. Jim Withers - bringing healthcare to the homeless population. He's also been instrumental in starting the Street Medicine Institute which encourages groups to use this model worldwide.

OSN is also featured in One Bridge to the Next and other places.
posted by mark7570 at 9:45 AM on June 5, 2012

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