Volunteer Opportunities
February 8, 2015 8:20 AM   Subscribe

Any suggestions on how to find fun/interesting volunteer programs? There are suprisingly few apps for this.

While I am open to all suggestions, there are some things that I would prefer to not do/to do: 1. I am not religious. I am not anti-religious, but I do not want to attend events that specifically involve praying or religious activities. 2. No fund raising. 3. I would prefer to do something that feels immediately productive. 4. No cleanup. I do not want to spend my free te cleaning up other peoples messes or animal waste. The exception to this is trail adoption / nationalpark cleanups. 5. Would like to work with nice people. Does not matter the age range.

That being said, specific opportunities would be appreciated but also would appreciate suggestions on ways to find opportunities.

I am near Atlanta, Georgia but I am okay with driving to surrounding areas.
posted by frednorton to Society & Culture (15 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Is there a specific area you want to focus on? Social justice? Access to food? The homeless? Children? The arts? Community beautification? Stray animals?

If you know any areas you want to work in, just google around for organizations that do that. I just got involved with possibly setting up a affordable farmer's market for a low income community because I googled "community gardening Chicago" and emailed a couple of organizations about wanting to volunteer.

Though one of the most fun volunteer positions I've had has been with a science museum.
posted by astapasta24 at 8:36 AM on February 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

I teach ESL to immigrants through a non-profit so the fees for students are more affordable than community college or private classes. It fits all of your criteria but I am in Greater Washington DC and the program is specific to DC - not sure if there is something similar in Atlanta.
posted by seesom at 8:55 AM on February 8, 2015

Atlanta has Medshare, an organization that sorts and repackages donated medical supplies for third world hospitals.
posted by deludingmyself at 9:09 AM on February 8, 2015

I lead a GS troop, and there are lots of adult volunteers who help out without being a troop leader. :)

In addition, check out http://www.pebbletossers.com/ - they have a great directory of organizations and projects.
posted by heathrowga at 9:10 AM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

VolunteerMatch lets you browse opportunities with a variety of options to limit the search.
posted by xenization at 9:13 AM on February 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

Idealist.org has search options for volunteer opportunities. When you say not religious, how not religious do you mean? A lot of religious organizations (Catholic Charities, Lutherans) have programs that help refugees but they don't make them pray. You mentioned Atlanta which makes me think of Habitat for Humanity, which is Christian but again, when I've volunteered with them, we don't sit around and pray.

How would you feel about volunteering with veterans at the VA? Answering calls for a hotline? Do you like cooking? Are there major events in your area that are fundraisers? I know you said no fundraising but handing out t shirts at a charity walk is different from dialing for dollars.

Also I live in DC and there's a local Kiwanis group for young people so we can see the same young people but volunteer doing different things.

When do you see yourself volunteering, like after work during the week? Weekends? I volunteer at an animal rescue but they close at 7 pm so it's hard for me to get there during the week because I rarely leave my office before 6. But I like helping out at their events. In fact, I generally like volunteering at events and recommend it to others.
posted by kat518 at 9:14 AM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Definitely idealist.org
posted by radioamy at 9:15 AM on February 8, 2015

+1 for Volunteer Match. I use it a great deal to find things to do, both virtual and in my local area.
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box at 9:29 AM on February 8, 2015

You're at the epicenter of the Hands On volunteer network! Hands On Atlanta offers flexible volunteering at agencies all over the city.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 9:35 AM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by Sassyfras at 2:20 PM on February 8, 2015

Habitat for Humanity sounds like it would fit your bill. It is immediately productive. It's a religious org but no praying or anything, at least in my experience.
posted by Dashy at 6:05 PM on February 8, 2015

I used to volunteer for the Washington Ear reading newspapers for the blind (actully, I usually got there late in the morning when there was nothing left to read except the cartoons--REALLY challenging to do the voices and all that). They also provide other services, like accompanying blind people to concerts and events and describing what's going on visually. I Googled and found something similar called the Georgia Radio Reading Service, based in Atlanta.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 1:30 AM on February 9, 2015

I want to second one of the suggestions above about volunteering at a museum--science, or otherwise. Many museums have a docent/volunteer program. It would be a great fit if you enjoy leaning about new topics and interacting with people. Your responsibilities might involve leading tours, facilitating hands-on activities, or staffing an information desk to answer questions about directions or museum content. You would have the opportunity to gain new knowledge related to the museum's content, help visitors enjoy their experience, and possibly build connections with other docents or the museum staff.

The only caveat is that these volunteer positions can be somewhat competitive at certain museums, or they may not have frequent volunteer openings. But, if it sounds like something that would be of interest, you could apply to several museums/historic sites/cultural institutions at once. I'm guessing there are many options in the greater Atlanta area.
posted by oiseau at 7:37 AM on February 9, 2015

Check Meetup.com for a volunteer focused Meetup group.
posted by Shanda at 10:33 AM on February 9, 2015

I do crazy amounts of volunteer work. My favorites are being a Girl Scout leader, and the various things I do for my local elementary school. You don't need to be a woman or a parent to do either of those.

Things I have done for the school: shelved books in the library, gone on field trips (that'll probably always be parents), helped the art docents, coached a Math Olympiad team, made popcorn and given it away, helped kids with their writing, helped Kindergarteners with their counting, weighted and measured and given eye tests to hundreds of children...

Girl Scouting is cool for the volunteers because of the training opportunities. I go to all the training I can get to. I've learned outdoor cooking, how to tie various knots, how to teach children to handle knives, gone kayaking for the first time, and become a certified archery instructor and a certified First Aider. I'm hoping to use all of this with my troop, but there are people -- lots of people -- who go to trainings who don't have troops of their own but let it be known that they're willing to come in and help.

To volunteer at a school, just call them and ask what they need help with. I know my school has people from the community come in to do various jobs, not just family members. You'd have to pass a background check.

To volunteer with Girl Scouts, go here.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:34 PM on February 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

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