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 

Mormon.org – Values and Helping Others

Mary House

Sacramento Loaves and Fishes

Catholic Charities

 

 

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Find YOUR Passion and Volunteer

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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!