Volunteer work from home?
June 13, 2006 12:10 PM   Subscribe

Help me help others from home.

I find myself on an enforced hiatus. For the time being, my formal education is on hold, and I will not be working. Browsing the internet is all well and good, and there are plenty of things I can do for entertainment and personal edification, but I have a real need to do something I consider meaningful. The best way I've found to fulfill that need is to help other people out or fight what I perceive as injustice. My education has been geared towards that end, and I've done quite a bit of outside volunteer work. With this temporary change in situation, however, I'm at a bit of a loss.

What I'd like is some help with brainstorming on other ways I can do this kind of thing from home. Extra income from this would be nice, but not necessary. So far, I've come up with tutoring or possibly some kind of language exchange.

Some pertinent details: I'm not in a position to donate money. I am not degreed. I have a one-week-old babe who will be keeping me regularly occupied (read: interrupted). For the unforeseeable future, I will be physically incapacitated. This essentially means no lifting or walking. I am a smart and resourceful woman. In your suggestions, please err on the side of things that might not initially seem possible, as there may easily be a workaround or variant.

Thank you in advance for your help.
posted by moira to Work & Money (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I've heard good things about the UN's Online Volunteering program, though I have no personal experience with them.
posted by occhiblu at 12:25 PM on June 13, 2006

Do you have a BA?
posted by k8t at 12:25 PM on June 13, 2006

The hippy routinely volunteers with several organizations around the bay area, some of our favorites that may have a need in line with what you're looking to do are:

Susan G Komen foundation - Sponsors walks similar to the Avon Walk www.komen.org

Avon Walk - walk.avonfoundation.org

Aids Walk - www.aidswalk.org

I'm not sure about the area you live, but I suspect there are a number of foundations and trusts who are always looking for volunteers to help with mailers, calling folks who donate on a regular basis/etc.

You could always learn about grant writing/etc if this is something you're interested in.
posted by iamabot at 12:27 PM on June 13, 2006

Write/edit Wikipedia articles.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:43 PM on June 13, 2006

Knit! Caps, socks, blanket squares, mittens, other things. Seriously, the preemie hospital units, cancer wards, battered women's shelters, homeless assistance programs, churches, food pantries, all accept donations of knitten items. There are even online places where you can find a place to mail your knitted squares and someone will join all the squares they receive into blankets.

You could also mail letters to our troops, stationed in active war zones or other places.

You could be a pen pal to a person learning English in another country. Or, if you have studied a foreign language, you could exchange letters with someone who speaks that language.

You might be able to tutor a child in your home if someone will be there to provide care for your child. I believe there may be online tutoring options.

Write your local government representatives, effect change.

posted by bilabial at 12:59 PM on June 13, 2006

you could volunteer to do follow-up phone work with a local group. in the past, i've been involved with a couple local walk-a-thons, marathons and such and have done the post-registration, pre-race phone work, which often includes giving runners information, reminding volunteers of where they need to be when and reminding donors of their commitments. lots of groups have this kind of follow-up phone work which needs to be done and isn't cold-call begging for donation.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:47 PM on June 13, 2006

You could also mail letters to our troops, stationed in active war zones or other places.

There was a sign in the post office declaring that Operation Dear Abby was cancelled due to security concerns, so unless you know of specific troops, this may be difficult.

I don't know what your interests are, but in your situation, I'd write instructions on how to do things I know I'm good at. If it's simple tasks, I'd write them for a kid audience. More elaborate things? Grown-ups. Whether it turns into a text book, a series of essays or just a blog, sharing know-how is helpful to the universe.

If you're not confident in your own knowledge, you could help share the great knowledge of the world by proofreading for Project Gutenberg.

If you've got a good speaking voice and enjoying reading, you could also record audio books, and you could use software to clip out the baby cry interruptions.

Obviously, my interests skew towards literacy, but as other people have mentioned, phone banking, stuffing mailers, doing online research -- your pet cause needs something you can do.
posted by Gucky at 1:52 PM on June 13, 2006

check Idealist, I frequently see remote-volunteer positions posted there.
posted by necessitas at 2:34 PM on June 13, 2006

I did Wikipedia when I first had my baby. Then I turned to blogging and eventually went back to my business. Lots of blogs need (unpaid) guest writers, if that is your thing.

Otherwise, try one of those volunteer match sites. If you want paid work, check Craigslist.
posted by acoutu at 2:36 PM on June 13, 2006

Response by poster: Wow, great suggestions, all. This gives me several places to start looking.

Do you have a BA?
Nope; I'm officially ig'nant.
posted by moira at 5:14 PM on June 13, 2006

If you have an interest in animals, you could help arrange transports for critters going to rescues. Transports can often be logistical nightmares, so someone willing to help organize the chaos would no doubt be welcome. Try Acme Pet Transport, or contact a local shelter or rescue group (via Petfinder?) for ideas.

Sorry for the unsolicited advice, but if you are a first-time parent, you might be surprised at how little you are able to get done in a day, in addition to caring for your baby. Me? Showers were a minor miracle. I hope YMWV. Good luck!
posted by SuperSquirrel at 8:54 PM on June 13, 2006

What about cooking? Food Not Bombs or someone could probably use chefs.

Gardening? Local community gardens could probably use seedling starts, which would involve keeping seeds in soil and watered for something like 2-3 weeks.

Yeah, phonebanking or grantwriting for nonprofits is a cool idea.

Neighborhood organizing? Like planning a block party or something?

Provide services, like some kind of lessons? Piano lessons? You could aim long-term to get a counseling / therapy type degree while your baby is young, and then give counseling sessions once you have the degree.

I bet if people know you are open to it, you could befriend a lot of local lonely types, widows, etc. Your friendship would help them, and vice versa probably.
posted by salvia at 1:52 AM on June 14, 2006

Response by poster: Supersquirrel, you nailed it on the first-time mom thing. I'm looking at somewhere around a year off, though, so I figure things will mellow out a bit in time. Then again, I may be overly optimistic.
posted by moira at 11:27 AM on June 14, 2006

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