No more excuses — there’s a volunteer opportunity to fit your lifestyle, no matter who you are. We’ve uncovered a few organizations looking for someone just like you.
The Whole Family Finding opportunities for the whole family to volunteer together can be tricky but not impossible. The Cleveland Foodbank allows children 6 and up for Family Night twice a month, and Big Brothers Big Sisters encourages Big Families to sign on together to become mentors to youths in the community. Children are often welcome at local hot meal programs or can tag along as you deliver hot meals to seniors through a Meals on Wheels affiliate near you.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cleveland bbbs.org, (216) 621-8223
Meals on Wheels mowaa.org to search by city for local programs
Seniors Any senior’s first stop should be Greater Cleveland Volunteers, which manages locally the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and Experience Corps, two national volunteer programs for the 55-plus crowd. After getting to know you, Greater Cleveland Volunteers suggests volunteer opportunities that match your interests, abilities and availability. According to Greater Cleveland Volunteers’ Joy Banish, seniors are most drawn to social volunteer opportunities — think ushering at PlayhouseSquare — and ”the opportunity to share skills they’ve accumulated over their life” through tutoring and other programs.
The Mid-Career Professional Tutoring at-risk youth after school might not fit your busy schedule, but you will find plenty of area nonprofits looking for someone just like you to join their boards. “There’s a misperception that you have to have gray hair and a fat wallet to be on a board,” says Brian Broadbent of Business Volunteers Unlimited, which matches business people with board or volunteer positions. Lending your marketing, accounting or planning skills to near-and-dear causes can make a big impact without a big time commitment.
Teens and Young Adults Teens as young as 13 can sign on to the Naturalist Assistant program at the Lake Erie Nature and Science Center, and Youth Challenge seeks only teens to partner with peers with disabilities for sports-related activities. But the post-high school crowd looking for maximum service impact should turn to City Year Cleveland, which challenges 17- to 24-year-olds to commit one year of full-time service to local schools and civic and community improvement projects.
Lake Erie Nature and Science Center lensc.org, (440) 871-2900, ext. 215
Singles Look for organizations where volunteers work together in small groups, recommends Debbie Kean, president of Single Volunteers of Northeast Ohio. Better yet, join a group like hers that volunteers together regularly. “Standing there sorting coats for kids for three hours, you’re going to strike up conversation, and before long you’ve made a friend,” Kean says. Her group’s fave projects? Food banks and soup kitchens, plus special projects such as fixing up a local camp for disabled children.