My horse Goose letting the area kids decorate him while they learn all about horses at Horse Camp!
Most every community in the world likely has a myriad of volunteer opportunities in any number of places. Equine therapy centers, animal rescue shelters, elderly home facilities, community gardens, museums, hospitals, and outdoor recreation spots are just a few of the sorts of places I have worked for during my time. I still help at several. The feel of giving back is very rewarding in and of itself, but it is even more than that. Many in our community need and want a chance to get out among the public to enjoy hobbies, special interests and friendship, but sometimes it can be very difficult to find a friend, or get a job in the field of our special interest or our hobby. Volunteering in those areas can be the key that opens lots of doors with lots of welcome mats and loads of satisfying fun.
Volunteering is easy to find at public and privately funded facilities, but it also abounds in neighborhoods where others may need help with yard work, walking animals, watching homes and collecting mail for those going on vacation, shopping for groceries or picking up prescriptions. Sometimes I used to just pick up trash in my neighborhood to keep the animals from grabbing hold of something that might hurt them. People don’t always have to be a part of your free labor. After all, sometimes it’s good to just do good things for the sake of doing good things!
If you are interested in sharing your time and energies (and perhaps your expertise!), do an online search for groups that take volunteers and talk to your local government agency or go straight to the group you think might want your help, to discuss your options. Don’t volunteer on something like Craig’s List or put up signs on bulletin boards, etc. Sadly, predators find their way to these places too often and it is better to stay on the side of caution and work through and with someone in a position of trust and good intentions. And never, ever forget to trust your gut…if you feel a volunteer opportunity is turning into a sort of slave labor arrangement or a dangerous situation, get out and alert the authorities or someone you trust. Do your research- make sure the group is a legit group with a good ranking from an agency such as The Better Business Bureau (in the US) or Yelp.
Staying safe, having fun and meeting new friends while enjoying something you like to do. That's the spirit of volunteering!
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