Make Your Summer Count

Summer is in full swing, and for many of us, that means having more time on our hands than usual. While getting away with family and friends is a great way to spend those summer Fridays, long weekends and weeks off that you have planned, there’s another way to put all that downtime to good use: volunteering.

Can Helping Others Help You?

Yes! Not only does volunteering positively impact others, it can change your own life for the better. Being of service to an organization, a person or an animal has been proven to stave off depression, and good mental health can have a wealth of positive effects on your physical health — from your immune system to your waistline. It can also teach us humility, compassion and gratitude for all that we have to give.

How Do I Volunteer?

Many people who wish to volunteer have trouble connecting with non-profits and other service organizations that need help. Thanks to the Internet, deciding how and where you want to volunteer has never been easier. Here are five great websites for finding volunteer programs in your community – as well as the world at large.

  • VolunteerMatch. Thanks to VolunteerMatch, it’s never been easier to support a good cause wherever you are. The country’s largest and most popular web-based volunteer recruiting service, VolunteerMatch pairs you with local nonprofit organizations and volunteer opportunities across a broad range of categories. Simply enter your location and the type of volunteer work you’re interested in, and VolunteerMatch will connect you with a plethora of ways to make a difference in your community.
  • Cross-Cultural Solutions. Cross-Cultural Solutions (CCS) has helped over 30,000 Americans realize a lifelong dream of volunteering abroad. This incredible organization provides you with the opportunity to volunteer with children, the elderly, individuals with disabilities, and healthcare professionals all over the world – from Asia to Africa to South America.
  • Volunteers of America. A nonprofit founded in 1896, Volunteers of America is a national faith-based organization that supports over 2 million people a year in the US, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico through hundreds of housing, healthcare and other human service programs.
  • Catchafire. Catchafire connects business and creative professionals to nonprofits and other human service organizations for pro-bono volunteer work across a range of platforms. If you’re a creative, pitch in to help a nonprofit tell its story with words, video or infographics. If you’re a spreadsheet whiz, Catchafire will direct you to an organization in need of help with accounting or everyday administrative tasks. Bonus: Catchafire allows you to track your impact by telling you how much money your volunteering has saved the organization of your choice.
  • iVolunteer. As a hub for stories about natural disasters and other catastrophic events that have left people in desperate need, iVolunteer connects you with a global network of nonprofits and relief services in search of volunteers. The site’s mission is rooted in the belief that each act of volunteering can inspire others to join the movement.

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