Faith-Based Volunteering – With a Spiritual Purpose

There is an abundance of good work that takes place in our communities, and it might not be obvious or well-known.  It is the work of volunteers through faith-based organizations of every denomination.  The religious purpose of volunteering adheres to a higher purpose, and many in the faith-based community aspire to this principle.  Faith-based organizations, such as the Salvation Army, are also typically organized in their service capacity, have a unique connection to or understanding of a certain need, enjoy access to a lot of human capital, and provide an excellent opportunity to serve those in need.

When I was a new volunteer coordinator for a public agency, I was discouraged from recruiting faith-based groups to my program.  Having been a member of a church for my entire life, it seemed plausible because of the existing service component in the faith-based community.  Besides, it seemed a little sketchy to me working on the public sector side of things.  However, as my program expanded and earned media, volunteers from all over town joined the team.  Faith-based groups from every population were interested in my volunteer program.  I could not turn them down.

South Natomas Caring Neighborhood - Max and Virgie Villavert (2)

Max and Virgie Villavert

One of my favorite groups included a Filipino American Church.  The two amazing service leaders were Max and Virgie Villavert.  They were the most sincere, heart-felt, volunteers who really wanted to make a difference.  Max and Virgie spent Friday nights hosting a teen program for neighborhood youth as an alternative for fun, and at some activities had around 100 kids in attendance.  As volunteers for my program, they were constantly seeking out elderly neighbors in need and going the extra distance to help out.  Max and Virgie did not expect anything in return except the opportunity to offer a helping hand.

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with a variety of faith-based teams on one-time volunteer projects as well as ongoing endeavors.  These groups provide a unique opportunity to volunteer, as members include all backgrounds.  Some of these groups have the ability to reach individuals in their communities that will not respond to offers of assistance from outsiders.  Others have a sheer volume of human capital through their numbers. They certainly make the difference.

If you are a member of a faith-based organization, or if you live near a faith-based organization, contact leaders and find out what work they are doing in the community.  Faith-based organizations in my community do anything from operate a food closet and homeless shelter for women and children, to collecting in-kind donations of needed materials for a cancer center and provide free employment services.  Through my church, my family contributes monthly donations to three local nonprofit organizations, and we have worked with youth in building life skills and personal development among other things.  At the end of the day it does not matter what you believe, but what you do to help others that counts.

What is your experience with faith-based volunteering?  Please share.  Make YOUR difference in the world…Volunteer!

Salvation Army – Values and Helping Others

Mary House

Sacramento Loaves and Fishes

Catholic Charities




Family Friendly Volunteering – Are You Inspiring a Future of Service?


Mom and Son at Family Volunteer Day

I am a parent.  I volunteer with the youth at church.  My neices and nephews that range from teenagers to toddlers. I help with Geometry, Physics, History, and English. I cheer  the team at football and volleyball games.  I drive 40 minutes for a high school car wash and buy tickets for a restaurant I do not like, just to support fundraisers.  I frequent science fairs, academic decathlons, cheer competitions, and soccer award ceremonies.  Why? Because I want to inspire good students and encourage greatness in the youth I influence.

But, what about the greater good?  With so many demands on our time, how can we instill the value of helping others?  Many parents and youth leaders actively engage children of all ages in community service through volunteering.  Finding the opportunity to cultivate a commitment to service while having a good time may be most challenging.

For liability and logistical reasons, many organizations do not allow volunteers under 16 to participate.  Do not be discouraged! There are a myriad of opportunities to encouragechildren in volunteer work.  Service clubs such as 4-H, Boy Scouts of America, and Girl Scouts of the USA are a great opportunity for youth service.  Faith-based organizations and child friendly community events are another option. Include kids in employer sponsored service projects, or school and sporting events and fundraisers.   Or, create your own volunteer activity with family and friends.  Designing  your efforts to be age-appropriate and enjoyable, expressing gratitude, and ensuring that children understand the purpose of the work and how they are making a difference is very important.

My teenage niece has volunteered with our family since she was 4 years old.  She has visited many lonely elderly neighbors, participated in neighborhood clean ups, served lunch to volunteers, cared for animals, tutored fellow students, supported school events, and much more.  Voluntarily, she joined her high school Key Club and volunteered all summer to support the coaches of the football team.  I am very proud that she has integrated a commitment to community service in her personal values.  I would like to think I played a part in that.

Some of my most exciting volunteer projects include youth.  One group of honor students from a Parochial school system along the West Coast provided 3 days of service to elderly in the community.  These kids were captivated by a 95 year old woman who recited poems that she wrote to her huband over 60 years prior.  Another team of students from a Jewish school in Arizona helped low-income older adults with household tasks.  On Family Volunteer Day, children and their parents made cards to be delivered with gifts for at-risk elderly in the community.  Rotarians, their children, and grandchildren visited isolated seniors in their homes and facilities in the area. There are many ways we can help our kids to make a difference in the world they live in and develop a lifelong commitment to community service.

Are you inspiring a future of service?  Leave a comment.  Make YOUR difference in the world…Volunteer!

Find YOUR Passion and Volunteer


WIA Youth Program Volunteers Paint Project   

     As a Volunteer Director, of course I want you and everyone in my community to volunteer for my program…all of the time.  But I also want volunteers who are passionate about the work and find their service experience to be positive and rewarding.  While ongoing volunteer engagements are a great fit for many organizations and the incredible volunteers that serve them, this scenario does not work well for everyone.  For those of us with limited time and varied interests, one-time events for a variety of organizations accommodate our interests as volunteers, maximize our service experience, and encourage us to volunteer in the future.  Finding the right opportunities require you to find YOUR passion!

     There are a myriad of organizations that need volunteers to provide a much needed service to the community.  But what opportunities are right for you?  Perhaps you are passionate about animals, children, elderly, the blind, developmentally disabled children and adults, cancer patients, low income residents, nature and the environment, health and wellness, sports, fighting crime, improving blight in your neighborhood, education, or other issue.   Find YOUR passion!  What issues are you interested in?  Find what organizations in your community are serving these interests, and ask about volunteer opportunities.  Most of the time, volunteer recruitment information is widely available online and posted on their websites.

     Another option is to join forces with a service club, neighborhood association, faith-based group, or other volunteer organization in your community that is already engaged in service activities.  Find YOUR passion, and check in with these groups to see how they are making a difference.  It is likely that an organization in your neighborhood is already engaged in service that YOU are passionate about, and is a great fit for you to make a difference within your interests and schedule.

    For example, here are local opportunities that are literally, at my door step, and I am making a difference in my community on my schedule:

  • My faith-based group supports three local non-profits that include two women and children’s shelters and a cancer center through donations and volunteer service every Monday
  •  A local bike trail clean up event takes place on a Saturday morning
  • One of my favorite non-profit organizations provides care for foster children is in need of volunteers with a skillset I have to support their operations, and I can do this at home
  • My family delivers vaccinations to various veterinarian clinics participating in a FREE annual Spay Day event
  •  I live near an assisted living facility for the elderly where my toddler and I can stop in after a morning walk to visit with residents for 15 to 20 minutes
  • A running race relied on volunteers to support the event that raised funds for disabled veterans

     These are simply a few of endless opportunities to make a difference in your community.  Find YOUR Passion!   Leave a comment.  Make YOUR difference in the world…Volunteer!

YOU Have the Power to Make a Difference

There is something that everyone can do to make a difference in the world around us.  Yes, YOU have the power to improve your community or transform the lives of others.  Regardless of age, income, ability, time constraints, or responsibility, each of us has that power.  My purpose is to inspire you to act on that power and leverage your human capital to make a difference through volunteerism.Image

I never underestimate the potential of human capital.  I am humbled and inspired by many people who endeavor to do good in the world around us.  The social environment today is one where people desire to be involved in making a difference, not simply donate money to causes.  The experience of volunteering in areas of interest to the volunteer can provide a reward unmatched by many other activities in life and encourage a long lasting commitment to helping others.

Finding a good fit for volunteers is key in maximizing the experience.  All of us have talents and abilities that can serve as resources to organizations that help others, be they public agencies, non-profits, faith-based groups, or service clubs.  Many of us are time constrained by work, family, and other commitments but would like to find an opportunities to make a difference.  Those with declining abilities and limited mobility who wish to volunteer are certainly capable of doing so within their physical limits.  I have had the opportunity to engage individuals from many backgrounds with such constraints in rewarding volunteer work tailored to their needs.

My passion for volunteering is embedded in my personal values.  I began volunteering as a child helping my grandmother make baby blankets that her Women’s club donated to local hospitals for new mothers in dire circumstances as some women were so poor that the hospital discharged newborns wrapped in newspaper.  I was forever inspired by a desire to help improve the world I lived in.  And, I believed that I had a responsibility to do my part to make a difference.

So, I began to engage in a lifetime commitment to volunteerism.  I provided service in my community through church activities as a youth and adult. While in college, I was active in the employee volunteer network of a large, publicly traded, global bank.  I worked on campaigns to save open space, recruited and coordinated volunteers to further that cause.  I directed a program where more than 10,000 volunteers in my community donated their personal time to make a difference.  As a mother with a small child, our family seeks opportunities to volunteer in our community.

My purpose is to inspire YOU to act on your desire to make a difference in the community.   There are opportunities to volunteer as an individual or group through a variety of services, and my goal is to help you identify rewarding experiences through volunteerism that fit within your interests and schedule.  YOU have the power to make a difference.