Top 10 Places to Volunteer Your Time
There are lots of organizations to dedicate your time to this year—from those focusing on helping the homeless to others helping our furry friends
Our area is ripe with people in need, causes, and sources for activism. But there are also tons of charities to address all of these problems. With thousands to choose from, here are Patch's top ten places in the area to volunteer for.
1. United Community Ministries, Alexandria: This organization works on improving the long-term situation of low income families along the Route One corridor in Fairfax County. Not only do they offer emergency relief, but also projects to increase self-reliance for these families. Long term volunteering projects include teaching computer and other life skills classes. Short term volunteering projects throughout this month include gift wrappers, as well as people to sort received presents and escort families through the space to select presents. This organization is particularly beneficial in our immediate area and sees very high outcomes for its work, reaching more than 10,000 participants last year alone.
2. Our Daily Bread, Fairfax: This organization works with families that are not classified as homeless, but are living from paycheck-to-paycheck and could–if an emergency hits—be in serious danger of becoming homeless. Many of their target families are hard-working, and just need a little extra boost to get by. In addition to providing groceries, they also work on self-reliance through financial training. More importantly, the organization is almost entirely run by volunteers, but it needs more now than ever to help with financial training, food collection and delivery, and office administration.
3. Northern Virginia Family Services, Oakton. With locations all throughout Fairfax County, NVFS focuses on developing self-reliance in families in need. More importantly, their programming particularly focuses on youth services like mentorship and health care. Upcoming volunteer opportunities include the gifting for families holiday initiative, as well as long-term projects like child mentorship and walkathons.
4. Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry, Falls Church: NOVAM is a local organization which highlights the D.C. metropolitan area's struggle with HIV/AIDS. In addition to prevention and health care, NOVAM works on eliminating the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS and giving HIV positive people, particularly children, the hope and energy to fight the disease. In addition to looking for more mentors for children, they also require administrative assistance throughout the year.
5. Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, Alexandria: AWLA, like many of its nearby partnering leagues, works on helping our furry (or feathered or scaled) friends find new homes and get much-needed love and care. Like many other animal groups, the organization has few paid employees and really needs the help of volunteers for some general upkeep, basic pet care or even fostering. If the ease of care isn't enough, just consider how happy the critters are to see a kind face!
6. The Prevent Cancer Foundation, Alexandria: The organization focuses on education about preventable cancers. Additionally, they work on funding for developing earlier detection techniques for harder to diagnose cancers. Volunteers are needed to help run educational programming, to assist with events, and to help maintain the office.
7. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Alexandria: The NCMEC serves as a national resource for issues on missing, kidnapped and exploited children. In addition to providing resources for parents and law enforcement officials, NCMEC also works with former victims. Volunteering opportunities exist online, as well as in person with administrative help, event coverage and information distribution.
8. Arlington Free Clinic, Arlington: AFC provides free health care services, including mental health counseling, to low-income Arlington residents. The AFC has won several awards for its hard work and selflessness in helping people without insurance obtain much-needed health care. Volunteers are needed for event assistance, administrative assistance and interpreting.
9. Ashoka, Arlington: Ashoka is a worldwide organization focusing on citizen empowerment for change. In addition to constructing infrastructure within developing countries, they nurture "changemakers" to promote homegrown improvements within countries around the globe. Ashoka is searching for administrative volunteers, hosts for visiting Ashoka fellows, and volunteers with special technical skills (like graphic design) to help with promotion and education. While the difference may be harder to see, its more widespread than you could ever imagine.
10. Doorways for Women and Families, Arlington: Doorways is a group which focuses both on ending domestic violence against women and children and ending family homelessness. In addition to providing shelter, advocacy and care, Doorways works on financial independence and care.