Ready to start volunteering but don’t know where to start? 

Volunteering in your community can serve as a great experience. Sometimes it’s the smallest actions of giving back that can really elevate your ch’i. If you’re looking for something to fill you up, helping others is something that often requires a small effort that can make a vast impact. Volunteering can also bring many benefits including building confidence, making new connections, becoming a part of a community, learning new skills, taking on a challenge and finally, having fun while making a difference!

How to Show Love to Your Community

1. Do Some Research on Your Community

Utilize the power of Social Media for the greater good. A fading number of community members rely on traditional forms of communication for local information. Social media is increasingly becoming the place for people to learn what activities are happening locally in real time.  If it is your first time, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by sterile contact form pages or overwhelming volunteer fairs. While many of us may have an idea of a cause we want to support, we often don’t know how to turn that passion into action. Facebook gives nonprofits a unique opportunity to advertise active needs within their organizations in a concrete and non-threatening manner. There are so many potential groups to get in on conversations with once you have established what category drives your passion and connect with people that share the same. You never know, your next volunteer opportunity could be just a “like” away. It may require a little digging on your end but the efforts will really reap the rewards.

2. Define what Organizations Drive Your Passion

My team and I have currated a list of both national and local organizations in Nashville that we can really get behind. There are never-ending opportunites for you to get involved within your community. Keep in mind, this is a very small list compared to all of the organizations and non-profits out there, but it’s a start!

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Boys and Girls Club

The mission of the Boys & Girls Clubs is to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens. The boys and girls club is constantly looking for volunteers to help in our Clubs and at special community events. Visit here to view volunteer opportunities in your community.

Local Libraries

Love the idea of sharing education and knowledge? Your local library may be the place for you. Volunteers assist with projects that range from shelving books, tutoring kids, assisting with events and other projects. Find out the needs of your local library and get involved! Here are some Nashville opportunities if you’re a local.

Animal Shelters

If you have been following my blog for awhile, you know about the Feng Shui benefits of having an animal around you. For those of you that can’t commit to having an animal full time, volunteering is a great alternative that is a win-win for both the animal and an extra boost to your ch’i. If you don’t have time to visit a shelter and engage with the animals looking for their next home, you can always find the donation wish list from your local shelters.  View the complete list here from the Animal Humane Society’s website.

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Feeding America 

People are in need of help twelve months out of the year. Valentines Day is a wonderful time to volunteer your time and give back to someone in need. The Feeding America nationwide network of food banks secures and distributes 4 billion meals each year through food pantries and meal programs throughout the United States and leads the nation to engage in the fight against hunger. Contact your local food bank to find out volunteer opportunities in your community. Advocate to end hunger and volunteer your time and opportunities. It doesn’t take a big commitment to join in with others to make a big impact.

UNICEF

UNICEF began in the aftermath of World War II, supplying dried milk, nutritional supplements, medicines, immunizations and other urgent assistance to help starving and ill children in Europe, the Middle East and China. Today UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories to save and improve children’s lives. In the United States, the U.S. Fund for UNICEF engages American youth by providing opportunities for them to advocate, fundraise and volunteer on behalf of their peers around the world. UNICEF’s vast network of volunteers have increased awareness on issues of child survival for UNICEF for over 60 years. Read more here.

Senior Centers

One great volunteer opportunity is visiting an assisted living facility. One of the most meaningful things you can do for someone in an assisted living facility is share some quality time together. Whether you’re going to see a neighbor, loved one or new friend, sometimes a quick hello can brighten someone’s day. This is also a great way to continue lifelong learning. Just imagine how many valuable stories and experiences elders can share with you. Brighten someone’s day while allowing yourself to learn a lot too. Here is a great guide for volunteering with seniors.

Humphrey’s Street

Humphreys Street is a Nashville organization that creates soaps and coffee to employ and empower youth in South Nashville. Their vision is to make exceptional products that invest in the community around us and inspire beauty in the midst of your everyday experience. Read more here.

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Hands on Nashville

Hands On Nashville meets community needs through volunteerism.  It all started in 1991 with one Nashvillian’s desire to find meaningful ways for people to volunteer. Now with over 25 years later, Hands on Nashville has continued to nurture the vision of its founders while connecting thousands of volunteers of all ages to more than 300 service projects each month. If you’re local and looking for something to inspire you to serve as a volunteer, this is a great place to start. Start browsing opportunities.

Undercover Nashville

We think about people about not having clothing in foreign countries so much that we don’t realize that this is a challenge going on within our own cities. Nashville based, The Undercover Project, Inc. brings this awareness to Nashville. Their mission is to provide men, women and children of the Greater Middle Tennessee area with needed undergarments while restoring some of the dignity and respect they deserve. Read more about their organization and how you can contribute here.

Second Harvest Middle Tennessee

One in seven Middle Tennesseans including one in five children struggle with hunger every day. Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee is a network of individuals, local nonprofit organizations and corporate partners working together to fight hunger in our community to efficiently impact hunger in the forty-six county service area in Middle and West Tennessee. Read about how you can get involved here.

Knit and Crochet TN

Did you know that there are avenues to give back with some of your favorite hobbies? Knit and Crochet TN is a great example of just this. Their tagline sums it up perfectly as “Helping the community one stitch at a time”. Knit and Crochet advocates from across the state donate their handmade items to this organization to distribute to people and organizations that need them most. They accept all kinds of knitted or crocheted donations including hats, scarves, baby blankets, dishcloths, afghans, and lap blankets. Read more here. 

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3. Know What You Have to Offer and Take Action

Do you have a special talent or hobby like photography or creating videos? A great photo of a pet up for adoption on a shelter’s website or social media can be more likely to catch an adopter’s eye. Optimize your skills and creativity to serve others, or in this case, some furry friends.

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your opportunities to give back in unexpected ways. Are you getting married or throwing an event? Chances are you’re not going to need those numerous bath towels or blenders that will sit in storage collecting dust. Instead, have a local shelter set up a registry page so guests can donate to the shelter rather than giving a traditional gift. It’s a rewarding experience for all parties involved.

The first step toward putting together a volunteer plan that works for you is to simply start. Find a local shelter, nonprofit group, or volunteer opportunity that aligns with your goals and how you desire to serve. We hope you have found some inspiration here to get involved with your community. Start taking action to see how a small impact can really go a long way.

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