Volunteer Opportunities for your Summer Downtime
As Covid restrictions lighten up, volunteer opportunities are back and in great need of service providers. Here are some local ways you can help out. And many of them are kid friendly!
- Meals on Wheels West: This is a Meals on Wheels run out of Santa Monica and it is so easy to get started volunteering with them. I have volunteered on and off over the years with Meals on Wheels West because they make it simple and it’s perfect for involving the children in volunteer work. Becoming a regular volunteer with an established route is very rewarding as you become friendly with the different clients that you serve. Some of these people are entirely housebound and yours is the only face they will see all day, making it a special experience for everyone involved. I think it’s a great way for our children to see how fortunate we are, not only for our abundance of food, but for our good health and loving family and friends.
- The Birthday Party Project: This is another fabulous volunteer opportunity that the young people in your life will actually enjoy showing up for. The Birthday Project aims to give all children, regardless of economic status or housing situation, a chance for a festive and fun birthday party. They work with shelters and homeless families in the Los Angeles area to make sure kids get the celebration they deserve on the special anniversary of their birth. Some restrictions may still apply to in-person birthday parties, however, there are many other ways to get involved and help kids feel special! When parties to do come back in full swing, I highly recommend volunteering to help host. Our family had a lot of fun decorating, dancing, and celebrating the kids we got to help out. It definitely did not feel like work--it was pure joy!
- Reading to Kids: I have not personally volunteered for this organization, but the premise is wonderful and the reviews are outstanding on Yelp. Reading to Kids is what the name implies: you read to kids. Here is a statement from the organization:
“Reading to Kids is a grassroots organization dedicated to inspiring underserved children with a love of reading, thereby enriching their lives and opportunities for future success. Reading to Kids is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization located in Los Angeles, CA. We coordinate reading clubs at seven elementary schools in downtown Los Angeles where volunteers read aloud to children and create arts and crafts projects about the stories. Each child receives a book to take home and the books read aloud are donated to the school's library. Reading aloud to children imparts a love of books that leads to improved literacy, to a more successful education, and to a brighter future. Our reading clubs are held on the second Saturday of every month from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon.”
- The Forgotten Dog Foundation: For the fur baby lovers out there, this a well reputed organization based in Santa Monica dedicated to helping homeless dogs find their forever homes. Click the above link to volunteer for one of their adoption events or sign up to become a foster family for a pup in need.
- Heal the Bay: If you’ve lived in southern California for any length of time, you’ve probably heard of Heal the Bay by now. It’s an oldy but goody and can use as much healing volunteer work as possible. There are myriad ways to volunteer for this organization for all age groups. If you have young ones under 14, simply contact Heal the Bay for ways you can help despite being a youth. Heal the Bay is a great way to bring large groups together, such as church or school committees, to make a positive. Maybe instead of a block party, you get the neighbors together to do a beach clean up. There are many possibilities! Here is a blurb from their website about the different ways you can help:
- Aquarium - Aquarium volunteers work at our Heal the Bay Aquarium. They interpret at touch tanks, ensure the success of private events, support animal operations, and facilitate field trips.
- Beach - Beach Captain volunteers support our large Nothin' But Sand beach cleanups that occur every third Saturday of the month. They are also involved in other beach programs like Suits on the Sand, and have the opportunity to attend Coastal Cleanup Day Site Captain training.
- Outreach - These volunteers take Heal the Bay knowledge all over Los Angeles. Speakers Bureau volunteers present in classrooms, in business meetings, at beach cleanups, festivals and more.
- Community Science - MPA Watch Volunteers survey marine protected areas (MPAs) in SoCal. They monitor, collect data, and get to walk along some of California's most stunning beaches.
- Youth - Middle and high school students register their school club with Club Heal the Bay to be part of a larger environmental advocacy community. In return, clubs receive recognition and rewards for their civic action projects.
Volunteering is incredibly rewarding and important. Not only is it a chance to participate in something positive and greater than yourself, it is a tremendous learning experience. Meeting people and animals from all walks of life is one of the most important aspects of cultivating compassion in ourselves, our children, and our community at large. Lightening someone else’s load is a sure way to bring a smile to your heart. Happy helping!