Reccommend a Service-Oriented Charity/Volunteer Organization, Please

So I’m thinking about volunteering on some basis. I’m thinking about Habitat for Humanity, but there’s one small problem: I don’t know the first thing about carpentry, electricity, plumbing, etc. I can weild a chainsaw with the best of 'em, and I can schlep stuff around easily enough, but I’m sure they have enough volunteers for that and really want skilled craftspeople.

So can someone reccommend a charity/organization to which I can give some of my time? I’d rather try to avoid anything having to do with hordes of small children, or anything that would require too much emotional involvement (such as Big Brother/Big Sister).


I highly recommend Habitat. Even if you have no skills whatsoever, they will find something for you to do. You’d be amazed at how much unskilled stuff goes into building a house! I volunteered on 3 different houses last year, adn I loved it. I’m in the same position you are, no pratical skills, but believe me, they kept me busy! The most gratifying thing about it was that I got to meet the people for whome we were working. The homeowner is required to help with the house if s/he is physically able, and it was really neat working alongside the people who will be living there.

 I have also been involved in a local mentor proram, where I mentored a couple of kids at a local middle school.  I enjoyed it tremendously, but got too busy at work to be able to continue.  It only involved one kid at a time, not hoards.

 If you like animals, you should try your local animal shelter.  They are terribly underfunded, and I'm sure they could use your help.  The animals need a lot of human contact in order to be socialized and adoptable, and most shelters (at least where I live)try to make their animals adoptable.  

 And bless you for wanting to do something to contribulte.

Every town has some kind of “Eldernet,” a clearinghouse for elderly people who can’t drive anymore and need servicves: to be taken shopping and to doctor’s appointments, who need people to pick up medicine, food, etc.

As my family is finding out to our distress, even the best towns are sorely lacking in these services and desperately need volunteers.

Volunteer Impact

Is based in Detroit, but for Metro dopers, is an organization that you call up and say, " Hey, I have five hours on Wednesday that I have open, where I can help out?" and they work you in somewhere needed.

The Habitat for Humanity here is always looking for warm bodies capable of hauling stuff, not skilled workers. If that were true, the people I know working the builds would be in a lot of trouble. Several of my friends also tutor students (anywhere from 1st graders to 11th graders, one-on-one) through a program with the local Salvation Army. If you’re looking for several one-shots, the Red Cross here also takes volunteers to hand out cookies and stuff during blood drives, and the Humane Society is always desperate for people.

Also, lots of nonprofit organizations like volunteers. The local library has volunteers shelving books, etc. I do office work for the county arts organization 2 hours a week. My roommate works at the Girl Scout office. It’s not the same as Habitat or anything like that, but people appreciate it all the same. Oh, and the nursing homes all like it when volunteers come to visit residents and entertain. A small group of people I know are going caroling at some of the local nursing homes this week.

If you’re particularly interested in anything, just try calling and asking. If the organization wants you, they’ll tell you and set up times for you.

There’s Americorps and Peace Corps, but they might require more commitment than you’re willing to give. Ditto Doctors Without Borders.

I say give Habitat a try. You can find local affiliates here.

Seconded. This is how I’ve gotten most of my volunteer experience: I’d see something that interested me. Find a contact, and call them. Say (in my case), “Hey, I need service hours for school, I’m interested in volunteering, do you need any warm bodies?” I know that libraries can always use people to do stuff, as said above. You also may want to (if secretarial-esque work suits you) contact various offices in your local municipal building. I spent a couple hours a day in the summer a few years ago filing pet registration forms and marriage licenses in the township clerks’ office. Boring, very unglamorous, but that freed the Clerk herself up to do more important things.

This program sends emergency messages to military troops stationed worldwide. The situation in Iraq had doubled the number of emergency messages sent. Each chapter handles their on-call procedures differently (the Minneapolis chapter, for example, handles calls during business hours but farms out after-hours calls to LA), but our chapter is desperately short of volunteers.

If that doesn’t trip your trigger you can always give stuff to disaster victims.