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7 Unique Ways to Volunteer in Columbus this Summer

Take action this summer and give back to your community by volunteering! One of the (many) great things about volunteering is that your contribution can be catered to your personal interests and passions. There are so many great organizations, dedicated to all kinds of issues and in need of all kinds of volunteers! Before deciding on a particular organization, ask yourself a few questions. What are you passionate about? What are you interested in? What do you think your strengths are?

Do something that makes you feel good so your volunteering experience is enjoyable and worthy of your time. Making a positive impact in your community should not feel like a hassle. Do your research first.

From environmental conservation to tutoring GED-seeking students, endless opportunities await to help at least one life in your area. Below are 7 different ways to volunteer in your area!



1. Volunteer to Expand Education


If you enjoy sharing your knowledge with others, consider volunteering with an educational purpose. There are plenty of students of all ages that need an academic boost outside of the classroom.

The Columbus Library utilizes its Homework Help Centers to help K-12 students develop their reading, math, and science skills.

The Columbus Literary Council focuses on adult education. The organization asks volunteers to assist with sharing the gift of literacy with adults in order to not only help in the pleasure of reading, but also employment opportunities.

If you enjoy cooking, consider sharing your knowledge with women in transition at the YWCA at its downtown location. Your help can include cooking and/or nutrition workshops – both of which help these women prepare meals for themselves and their loved ones.



2. Help Animal Rescue Services


If you have a soft spot for our furry four-legged friends, consider volunteering in order to help save animals’ lives.

If adopting a pet seems like too much of a commitment, consider helping an older pet-owner care for his/her pet. The LifeCare Alliance Senior Pet Care program enables you to not only help care for pets, but to also get some social interaction with pet-owners as well.

The Capital Area Humane Society is another great organization that has volunteers help with a variety of duties.  This includes walking and feeding dogs, cleaning kitty litter, and interacting with potential adoptive “parents.”

Another similar organization, Colony Cats, helps care for both cats and dogs. As a volunteer, you can either permanently adopt or care for an adult animal until its forever home comes along!

Who doesn’t love puppies?? At Canine Companions, volunteers raise puppies into young adulthood before turning them over to professional trainers. These are puppies that will grow into companion animals for people with physical, intellectual or developmental disabilities. Win-win!



3. Increase Environmental Conservation


If your interest lies in the conservation of our environment, there are plenty of organizations to choose from. From environmental education-based volunteer opportunities to hands-on conservancy projects, the possibilities to contribute are endless!

Columbus Audubon offers an array of volunteer opportunities. These include the areas of conservation, maintenance, and education. Additionally, they offer staffing opportunities at the beautiful Grange Insurance Audubon Center near the Brewery District.

Become a friend of the Topiary Park with Friends of the Topiary Park! Volunteers play a major role in preserving the park’s grandeur by playing docents on tours, staffing the visitors’ center, and maintaining the gardens as well.

The Gardens at Gantz Farm represent three centuries of  horticulture history. As a volunteer, you will get the opportunity to lead tours and workshops, help with events, and tend to the gardens themselves.


4. Advocate Physical Health


Bolstering physical health in the community is something almost anyone can do. Columbus has an array of organizations that cover health-based issues.

The AIDS Resource Center of Ohio  encourages volunteers to help people reduce their risk of contracting the disease. Additionally, volunteers also help stop discrimination through education against people who are HIV-positive.

Help the American Red Cross locally by greeting and signing in donors on the Bloodmobile or at a fixed-location blood donation center. Volunteers also need to keep an eye on folks post donation and administer cookies as necessary.

Help healing ailing veterans in your area at the Chalmers P. Wylie VA Ambulatory Care Center. Greeters, receptionists and assistants are needed throughout the facility.

Girls on the Run not only trains girls to run a 5k, but they also instill important lessons about staying healthy and safe. Volunteers strapped for time can forego the training program and instead participate in the run on Saturday, May 21, 2016!



5. Promote Mental Health


Promoting mental health in the community is a great way to give back. There are many ways to help with this little-talked-about issue. Get out there and make a difference in your community with some of these programs:

Suicide Prevention Services offers a great way to volunteer by answering phones when someone is in a crisis. Volunteers are highly trained for the 24-hour hotline. Your work can help save lives and point people towards the right vital mental health services they need.

The Buckeye Ranch helps children and teens in particular. You can help with clerical duties or play a role in facilitating and monitoring visits between families and clients. Additionally, those with horse skills can lend a hand at the equestrian center.

Volunteer for the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill Franklin County. Here, volunteers can help with community education, public speaking, hospital outreach and legislative and policy efforts.



6. Increase Your Community’s Artistic Outreach


Do you have an interest in the arts? There are plenty of ways to share your artistic interests and skills with these organizations:

Open Door Gallery is a creative home for artists with developmental disabilities. Volunteers can assist Open Door Gallery artists or prepare the art gallery for an exhibition.

The Jewish Community Center’s Gallery Players theater company always has volunteers run sound and lighting and get patrons into the theater and to their seats. The best part? They’ll teach you how to do it – no experience is necessary!

Are you a huge fan of art? Columbus Museum of Art  has a docent training program. Training lasts for nine months with a two year commitment. What a way to open up a door to a lifelong love of art for visitors young and old!



7. Promote Social Equality


Social equality is something every community should strive for.  The Columbus area is doing its part, with many organizations that enable volunteers to make a social difference in the community.

Stonewall Columbus is dedicated to servicing the LGBT community. They rely on volunteers for community outreach and to staff booths at festivals and other events. In general, volunteers help get the word out about services the organization offers. These services include social, activist and support groups, classes, health and wellness services and counseling

The Homeless Families Foundation focuses on helping homeless families move into stable, permanent housing. Additionally, they help connect those in-need with social-service help. Volunteers have the opportunity to help a child with homework, serve dinner, or get involved in recreational activities.

The Ohio State University’s Star House relies on volunteers to help homeless youth find employment. Volunteers help craft resumes and cover letters. They also advise the 14-24 year olds on choosing suitable work and filling out job applications. Talk about making a direct impact on the community!



Do you have any positive volunteer experiences you would like to share? Reach out on Facebook or Twitter and share your favorite stories with us!