Most millennials are well into their professional careers. As we enter our 30s, there are some of us who haven’t started families, are not interested in it, and let alone aren’t even in happy, committed relationships. That just goes to say that we have more time than most, and because we grew up along with the internet, we also have more coveted professional skills than most.
There are so many nonprofit organizations that are bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. Housing agencies are facing a tsunami of forced evictions, higher rents than usual, a shortage of available affordable apartments, and homeless shelters that are overcrowded and over capacity; situations that will only worsen with the oncoming winter.
Organizations like these need your help, and it may not even be for your ability to Google search literally anything. Sometimes they just need bodies, people with enough competence to work a printer, re-route an internet router, take phone calls, or talk to the guys coming off of sleeping on the street and serve them their first hot meal of the day.
There are also highly technical volunteer opportunities, helping agencies consolidate their debt, take inventory of their donations on an excel spreadsheet, do anything requiring an excel spreadsheets, or write a compelling grant proposal for funds that may help keep their utilities on.
I’ve been volunteering for four years teaching conversational English to groups of former or current undocumented immigrants that are also members of an agency fighting for their civil rights. But don’t get me wrong, there are days where I really don’t want to get back on the screen for an evening class after 6 hours of meetings during the day. I often feel like I am forcing myself to do something I really don’t want to do, for no reason at all, spending hours preparing lessons, and sending reminders to students (definitely not the case.)
On days when I’m so tired and I haven’t even prepared for class, I quiet all the voices in mind (meditate), I go through the motions of creating a PowerPoint and choosing worksheets, and I start the meeting. It’s the 15 or so faces of hopeful students, many of them who look exactly like my parents, that completely erase any stress or anxiety I had leading up to class. It’s their honest and silly attempts at saying difficult words in English that make my heart grow and my own worries disappear. After each class, I’m lightened and empowered. I’m reminded of the privilege that comes along with being a US citizen, speaking English, and having extra time.
If these attributes describe you, give your time away! You are guaranteed to accomplish something for yourself and for someone else.
If you’re looking for volunteer opportunities in your immediate community, check out www.volunteermatch.org and let us know in the comments if your organization is in need of volunteers.