For many families, volunteering is a Christmas or Thanksgiving tradition that lets them give back to the community. But people who save it for the holiday (or skip out together) are missing out on an incredibly rewarding experience that has huge benefits for the community you live in. Equally important are the psychological benefits it can have for you! Volunteers create strong connections with each other, and volunteering can strengthen existing bonds if you work with a friend or family member. Living in Seattle can get lonely, no matter how many friends you have on social media. Finding a cause you care about will lead you to other people like you, and help you forge meaningful relationships that can benefit you for the rest of your life.So whether you’re brand new to Seattle or looking for meaningful ways to enrich your time, here are some incredible opportunities waiting for you:
1. Provide essential senior services
Elder Friends, Sound Generations, and the local AARP are organizations that aim to improve the lives of elderly men and women by providing them with food, companionship, and assistance with their daily care. They also provide advocacy services to protect their rights and make sure no one takes advantage of them. Connecting with people from a different generation and offering them comfort when they may otherwise be isolated can be a joyful experience if you’re willing to give it a shot.
2. Care for animals in need
If you get misty watching puppies and kittens on the internet (you know you do), donating your time to the Seattle Animal Shelter, the Seattle Human, or PAWS is a great way to help some animals in desperate need of care. Duties may include fostering pets, cleaning kennels, playing with animals, and administrative duties. But whatever your role is, every job is important. The staff will be thankful, but more importantly, so will the furry critters in need of your help.
3. Champion environmental causes
If the impact of human activity on Earth is close to your heart, there are several ways you can make a difference. The Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association is working to restore green spaces in Seattle by planting trees and cleaning up litter. Seattle Parks and Recreation organizes crews to clean and maintain parks, restore forests, and work with Eagle Scouts. The Tilth Alliance provides education for people on planting and growing local food, as well as offering nutrition and cooking classes. This labor-intensive work will help you sleep better at night in more ways than one.
4. Fight Hunger
Despite all the excess food, millions of Americans go hungry each year, and 1 out of 7 people in Seattle struggles with food insecurity. You can help out by donating food to any of the local food pantries, but volunteering your time is even better. Check this list of food banks to find one in your area and work with them to organize donations, cook, serve food, or deliver meals. You can also organize your own food drive at work or in your neighborhood.
5. Advocate for Social Justice
There are many organizations fighting for equal rights and opportunities for underserved members of the community. Here are a few organizations that need your help: The International Rescue Committee helps refugees and asylum seekers, victims of human trafficking, and other immigrants establish themselves and thrive. NARAL Pro-Choice Washington fights for reproductive freedom and equal healthcare access for women. The Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness has made it a mission to end homelessness in Seattle. Check out this list for more ways to work for social change.
The bottom line
Even if your job is demanding, the time you spend volunteering can be just as refreshing (if not more so) than binge-watching Netflix or hitting up a bar in the evening. But if none of these options fit quite right, check these listings for open opportunities. Or maybe you have a valuable skill set, like graphic design, programming, or copywriting. Finding an organization that’s close to your heart and donating your services can make a huge difference in their outreach. If you’re plugged into the news constantly, it can be hard to have much hope. But spending time with any one of these organizations will show you just how many people are willing to work together for the causes that matter most to them. So get plugged into your community and see what happens!