It’s National Volunteer Week, and with so many incredible volunteer opportunities available in Buffalo, it may be hard to figure out where to start.
Here are 5 tips for getting involved in WNY:
1.) Decide what you enjoy. Do you like working with children? Senior citizens? Animals? Can you build things? Do you enjoy heavy lifting? Whatever you like to do, odds are there is a volunteer opportunity out there for you.
2.) Utilize Volunteer Center WNY. Type in some keywords, add your zip code and opportunities pop up that fit your criteria. It’s as simple as that!
3.) Bring along a friend or family member. Signing up to volunteer with a friend can be a great way to stay motivated and take away any anxiety you may have joining an activity or organization where you don’t know anyone else.
4.) Volunteer for one time events. Don’t have the time to commit to something every week? Start small! Organizations are always looking for special event volunteers. Reach out to your favorite non-profit to see if they are in need, or check out an organization like B Team Buffalo, who always have one time opportunities.
5.) Get to know other volunteers. Take the time to reach out to other volunteers working with you. It’s an opportunity to network, make new friends, and to learn new things. Odds are, you will get more out of volunteering than you ever could have expected.
I’ve written a lot about volunteering over the past year. Here are two popular posts that both talk about getting involved in Western New York!
Things You Can Do To Make Buffalo Better Now
Volunteer & Change Your Life, Buffalo
I decided to take my volunteer questions to the “street” (or more accurately the Lovin’ On Buffalo Facebook and Twitter pages) to see where people are volunteering and why. The responses I received, nearly brought me to tears. I asked each person below three easy questions: Why they volunteer, where they volunteer and what volunteering means to them. Nearly everyone gave me paragraphs and paragraphs on their volunteer experiences. It was truly refreshing to read. While I couldn’t include everything everyone wrote, here were some great answers.
Explore & More Children’s Museum
“I am a big believer in “community vision” and contributing to a larger group objective. Sure you can sit on the couch and watch television or surf the web after work, or spend time on hobbies and personal interests, or hit the bar…But you can also give just a few hours a month, make a difference, and find time for all of those other things too. Eventually, those other things aren’t as attractive and tend to fade from the daily schedule.
The beauty about being in Buffalo is that you can find a volunteer opportunity at almost any level, whether you want to serve soup, organize events and fund raise, or make decisions on a board level.”
“I believe that grassroots citizen action is a powerful tool for change and that everyone should ACT to make a better world. Especially in Buffalo, I’ve found there’s a deep sense that the actions we take together will accomplish meaningful change.Things become “our problems” or “our successes” rather than “someone else’s” problems and successes. There’s a lot of injustice and horror in the world, and volunteering feels like pushing back against the dark. Volunteering is a way to take large visions like world peace and make them a tiny bit more real in small, personal, every-day ways.”
Volunteer Firefighter & EMT for Reserve Fire Hose Company
“I think fundamentally we’re all in this together and (individually) benefit and are fulfilled by helping others. Personally, I feel a tremendous sense of purpose and satisfaction when I’m able to help others on emergency calls. Volunteering in the fire service also puts matters in perspective. When you’re sweating the small stuff in daily life and suddenly respond to a scene that is literally life and death, you realize what’s really important and are reminded where your priorities should be.”
Junior League of Buffalo
“Volunteering is essential to understanding the potential of Buffalo and WNY. Sometimes it forces you out of your comfort zone, and sometimes it leads you to a new path in life. I’ve seen many volunteers take their experiences and turn them into careers, become invested board members, and even become the link to bringing in critical funding that allows for growth of a program.
Volunteering also means gaining the experience to make you a knowledgeable ambassador about the needs of our community.”
“During a recent visit, my 5-year old, Madeline said, “my heart is so happy when I am here because I make people smile.” Being a leader to these girls makes my heart happy as well.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County
B Team Buffalo
“Growing up in a single-parent home that relied on the help and assistance of others, it’s important to me to find ways to give back to the community and region that has done so much for me. I cannot always give back financially, so I give my time and skills as often as I possibly can. When volunteering or giving back, I am doing so with absolutely no expectation of anything in return. To me, volunteering means being a small part of something much, much larger than anything I could do by myself.”
Literacy New York Buffalo Niagara
“The presence of passionate, dedicated volunteers- literally made/makes Literacy New York Buffalo Niagara who we are. They are how we exist. We would not be in business without them.
Likewise, our Adult Tutoring Program asks volunteer tutors to complete a 12 hour training and commit to meeting with a student for at least two hours a week for one year. That is a significant commitment. The level of passion and dedication are evident, and we are beyond grateful to all of them.”
A few hours a week can truly make a difference in Western New York.
I encourage you to find an opportunity that matches your skill set and get out in our community today.
It’s the first step in making Buffalo a better place.