How to get involved in your local community

By Jen Adams on July 10, 2017.

I often hear people talk about how they would like to get more involved with volunteering in their communities, but never know where to start. After 10 months of leading and coordinating volunteer groups through AmeriCorps, I have started to figure out some strategies and tips for finding the right volunteer opportunity.

  1. Figure out your passions and interests. This is probably the most important tip. Our volunteers enjoy their experiences the most when it’s something that they love doing. It’s best to narrow down your passions and interests because you may love the environment but hate trail work, so you do not want to get added to the trail crew every week. Figure out what makes you passionate about something and look into volunteer opportunities for it.
  2. Check in your community for opportunities. Many volunteer opportunities get sent out through a mailing list, so they are not always public knowledge. However, we will often hang up flyers about events and opportunities to get involved in the local communities. Grocery stores, libraries, coffee shops, government buildings, and local shops usually have bulletin boards with flyers about events, volunteering, and so many other things going on in the community.
  3. Volunteer with someone. Or don’t. Sometimes the best volunteer experiences are when you spend the day with a friend or loved one doing good for the community. Sometimes the best experiences are when you volunteer on your own and make new friends outside of your usual circle.
  4. Give it a couple of tries. It can be difficult at first to start volunteering because everything is new, you may not know anyone, and everyone else seems to know what they are doing when you don’t. After a couple times volunteering, you will get the hang of it and feel more comfortable with other volunteers and at the organization. And if you don’t, that’s okay too; keep looking for the right opportunity for you.
  5. Find your niche. Oftentimes organizations need volunteers for a wide variety of roles. For example, at Conserving Carolina (formerly Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy), we have volunteers who help with stewardship, some who help with trail work, some who only help out in the office, and some that help out at events. Figuring out what you enjoy doing and what you are capable of doing will help you narrow things down until you find your niche doing what you enjoy and what you are passionate about.

Volunteering is something every one of all age and skill levels can do and should do at some point in their lives. It is enriching, educational, and often a lot of fun. So go check out opportunities in your local community and get involved!