Be an Active Volunteer

By Marjorie Foerster Eddington

Mary Michael, has made a career out of helping others. Here are her thoughts on how to start being a volunteer as well as suggestions for making a difference in others' lives.

Getting Started:

  1. Be receptive. Have the attitude of, "How can I help?" Lots of different things will be brought to your attention.
  2. Find something that's interesting to you. Start being aware of different organizations. You'll know when one catches your attention.
  3. Look in newspapers and magazines, on your church bulletin board; listen to the radio. There are always ads and articles about different volunteer organizations searching for people. I got involved in CASA because I saw an ad.
  4. Expect to find something you like. Everything I have gotten into has chosen me. I have seen an ad or someone has brought something to me, and I have realized that that was something I wanted to do.

Ideas for Making a Difference through Volunteering:

  1. Join "Project Linus." Linus is the character in the Peanuts cartoon hugging his security blanket. We make simple quilts and knit or crochet colorful blankets that are then sent to hospitals, war areas, or to any child in a stressful situation. Over 944,000 have been provided by the 346 chapters. For example, every child who lost a parent in the 9/11 disaster received a comforting, hand-made quilt or blanket from Project Linus. So, if you are fortunate enough to know how to knit or crochet or love to sew, this volunteer work can be done at home any time and brings a reminder of Love's presence to a sad child. For more information, see
  2. Join a literacy program and teach someone how to read. You will be trained in how to teach reading. There are so many adults who don't know how to read. Many are dyslexic. One woman found that she could read upside down. I would usually read upside down with the book facing the woman. But I could not read a certain word. I turned the book to face me, and the woman discovered she could read.
  3. Help in a soup kitchen.
  4. Join "Meals on Wheels" and take hot meals to the elderly who are alone. You need to be able to drive. It would be wonderful for young adults to do this. These grandparents would love having a conversation with a young person. They're often just starved for that kind of relationship. One woman, who had been a former school teacher for year, just couldn't say enough about how wonderful it was to talk with children who came to visit her.
  5. Be aware of older people in your neighborhood. Offer your services for an hour a week -- wash windows, read to them, sweep their porch, etc.
  6. Volunteer at a summer day camp. They always need an extra pair of hands.
  7. You could always volunteer to take children in your neighborhood or in your church out for an hour for a walk to the park to give their parents a break.
  8. Become a CASA worker (Court Appointed Special Advocate) for children. You have to be old enough. One thing to think about is that you want to gain a child's trust in order to learn about that child. I would usually bring the children some ice cream or a book. I talked a lot about my grandchildren so they could relate to me -- how old they were, what they feared, what they did. I even went to birthday parties. I saw it as an opportunity to get to know them. Once you know a child, you can very quickly tell if he or she is under a strain, and you can help do the best thing for that child.

Enjoy being a volunteer and giving of yourself! Your life will be blessed more than you could ever imagine.