When you’re young and just starting your career, it’s easy to feel like you don’t have a lot of downtime. Between working, making time for your family and trying to spend the weekends with friends, volunteering may not be at the top of your to-do list.
But getting involved in your community can help you in more ways than you may think. Ready to do some good in the world?
Here are some great ways for young professionals to get involved in their community.
Become a Mentor
Not everyone has an older sister, an older brother or a cool aunt or uncle who can spend time with them and teach them the ways of life. But as a mentor, you can do exactly that.
Young people of every demographic need mentors. There are millions of kids out there who simply don’t have role models in their day to day lives. You can become that role model.
Being a child’s mentor has lifelong implications. It’s more than just helping one child in need. You can actually inspire a child to go on to bigger and better things that can, in fact, affect the entire community or leave a lasting impact on the world!
To get started, check out The National Mentoring Partnership to find local mentoring opportunities in your city.
Related: How to Recover from Burnout
Volunteer in the Community
Do you have a few hours a week to spend at an animal shelter? Can you make some time to volunteer at a food bank or a homeless shelter?
Maybe you’re a great organizer with a passion to plan a food drive or a toy drive. Maybe you could have some fun (and do some good) by playing games with the elderly in nursing homes. If you’re obsessed with your smartphone, you could even teach the elderly how to use some of the new technology that they might not understand.
Volunteering in your local community is the best way to get involved and make your neighborhood a better place. And there are hundreds of ways to do it.
To find traditional volunteering opportunities in your hometown, visit sites like Idealist, American Red Cross and VolunteerMatch. You’ll be able to find all sorts of urgent opportunities, no matter where you live.
Revitalize Your City
Another great way to get involved is to make your community a better place to live and work. Revitalization projects take place every single day – and there are sure to be a few happening where you live this weekend.
You can clean up or build playgrounds and rec centers for young people. You can collect trash on the beach or tidy up your local park.
Spend a Sunday afternoon helping to plant a community garden. Roll up your sleeves, grab a hammer and build a home through Habitat for Humanity.
City revitalization projects make our neighborhoods look better. And the better they look, the more likely that people are to take pride in where they live. That feeling of pride can carry forward and inspire even more people to want to help out where they can.
Become a Tutor
There’s almost no greater feeling than being able to impart your wisdom and knowledge onto someone else. And that’s why becoming a tutor is one of the most fulfilling things you can do to help your community.
You don’t have to be an expert in calculus or physics or biology. While there are surely students looking for help in those areas, there are also plenty of kids who can benefit from basic language and math skills.
If you want to keep it close to home, contact your local schools to see if they have a volunteer tutor program. It’s a fantastic feeling knowing that you did something to help someone improve upon their skills and further their education.
And you don’t have to love children to be a tutor. There are lots of adult literacy programs where you can teach under-educated adults how to read or assist them in getting their GED.
In this strange era of COVID-19, gathering with a group of strangers to volunteer may not be in your comfort zone. We totally get it, but that’s no excuse not to help where you can. Why? Because there are dozens of organizations out there, who are always in need of virtual volunteers.
Not sure where to start? Here are three incredible organizations that can use your help right now. You don’t even have to leave the house to make a difference!
SCORE is a way for professionals and business experts to help entrepreneurs and small, local businesses. You can use your skills in marketing or finance to mentor and advise small businesses on ways to grow their businesses or make them more efficient.
Passionate about helping victims of sexual assault? RAINN is a crisis center that helps victims through a hotline that provides guidance and support. Don’t worry – you don’t have to be a trained psychologist or medical expert to help. RAINN will train, so you know exactly how to handle each and every call.
As a volunteer for the Trevor Project, you can provide crisis intervention services and answer questions for LGBTQ youth. With a bit of training, you can become a supportive voice that can literally save lives.
Getting Involved In Your Community Helps YOU Too
Getting involved in your community benefits the community – but it benefits you as well. And no, we’re not just talking about those warm and fuzzy feelings you get after you’ve done something good.
Volunteering in the community is also a great way to network, make new connections, meet people, and new friends. It’s also a way to learn new skills and challenge yourself to do new things. And yes, you’ll probably get the warm and fuzzies too.
How Can I Get Involved In My Community?
As a young professional, it makes sense to get involved in charities, and community efforts led or run by your company. Ask your boss if the company has any volunteer opportunities planned. That way, you can do something good for the world and get some brownie points to boot.
Can’t bear the thought of having to spend a Saturday morning with your boss? Not to worry, there are plenty of things you can do on your own! Calling your local community center for a list of community service needs is a great way to get started. You could even start by checking their socials for community meetings. Your PTA or local sports teams may also have an immediate need and be an excellent resource for volunteering your time.
The key is to get started now. Think of some things you’re passionate about and some ways that you think you can help. The more you get involved with your community, the better you can make that community work for everyone you know, as well as those you don’t.
You may also be interested in: How To Start A School Garden [It’s Never Too Early For A Green Thumb]
10 Ways for Young Professionals to Get Involved in Their Community:
- Become a youth mentor
- Volunteer at an animal shelter
- Sign-up to work at a food bank
- Volunteer at a homeless shelter
- Participate in a park or playground clean-up
- Help plant a community garden
- Build and repair housing for those in need
- Become a tutor
- Volunteer your time with a virtually
- Volunteer with your employer