Diploma packed away, plane ticket booked, and my new suitcase – a graduation gift – bulging at the zips, I prepared for a year-long volunteer program in Glasgow, Scotland. 22 was an ideal age at which to be completely unsure of my intended future. I was exuberant.
Others, less so. “Why spend a year pouring soup at a homeless shelter in the UK, when you can do that in your own hometown?”
No matter where we go, our chances to serve and share are endless. Whether you plan to spend the new year giving your time and spirit to just one place, or hope to provide aid at a string of international locals, there is no excuse not to volunteer.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Not just for supporters of the organic food movement; WWOOFing provides even the biggest fans of processed meat with opportunities to learn about and experience farming and agriculture. Accommodation and some meals are traded for a few hours’ labor in over 30 countries.
An honest collaboration of volunteers and organizations; fed up with the costly fees imposed by many volunteering organizations, Brian and Cameron devoted themselves to creating a more open database of opportunities. They visit or volunteer at the registered organizations and invite volunteers to speak openly about their experiences. Young, eager and growing, their organization will send you to places that need helping hands, not just big wallets.
Volunteer from your computer; grant writers and journalists, web and graphic designers, and anyone else who travels with a laptop can register for short-term and long-term projects with UN branches and other international nonprofit organizations.
I registered several years ago and was lucky enough to join forces with:
A new kind of media outlet; focusing on youth leaders, change makers and movements towards a better world, this magazine has won accolades for its commitment and dedication to global awareness. Always looking for writers, editors and designers, it’s an inspiring way to support the community-based people and programs you meet on your travels.
New Year’s Resolution #8: Worried about breaking this? As my parents would say, “If you have time to play, you have time to pay.” Start with something short-term or simple, and see where it takes you.