Think of the last time you helped someone. Maybe you paid for the order behind you in the drive-thru line, gave your time to help a friend move, or aided a stranded driver to change a tire. How did it make you feel? If you’re like most people, you felt a level of warm and fuzzy on the inside.
Why? Because doing good feels good. Particularly, doing good by others and your community. Volunteering is a common way to do good by others and support topics you’re passionate about.
The research shows that volunteering has mental health benefits. According to the , volunteering decreases the risk of depression through social interaction and linking to other like-minded persons. It was also indicated that volunteer work can reduce stress because the work being done is meaningful. If a volunteer position has a learning curve, it may include the benefits discussed in last week’s article on .
Reduce stress and the risk of depression while feeling good about what you’re doing? Yes. It’s that simple. All that’s left now is to find the volunteer opportunity that’s right for you.
Here are five places to look for volunteer opportunities on the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware (and in many other communities):
Libraries: Local libraries are the cores of their respective communities and tend to welcome volunteers. You may be able to perform basic library tasks such as circulation and reading circles, but many libraries now have much special programming they welcome support for. Some other opportunities might include helping with a job search center, overseeing a book store, or heading a table during special events. Check your county library’s website to find your role.
Food Pantries/Soup Kitchens: Food pantries (or banks) and soup kitchens reduce food insecurities and can help provide options for healthier, balanced diets to those who might not be able to access this otherwise. Many can help reduce food waste by taking in unwanted food stores and businesses can’t sell.
Sort foods, pack meal kits, stock shelves, and serve directly to patrons. Check out local churches and non-profits for these offerings in addition to food banks. Two local food banks are; The in Salisbury, MD; and The with two affiliates in Chincoteague, VA. Volunteering in this capacity is vital to the community.
Animal Shelters: If you love pets (which can come with their own ) shelters provide an opportunity to socialize, exercise, cuddle, and care for animals waiting to be adopted. You may enjoy going to a facility to donate your time or being a foster care fur-parent until the pet finds a home. Locally, look for Humane Societies, SPCAs, and rescues. Some notable local rescues whose websites indicate they seek volunteers are , caring for rescued horses in Laurel, DE, and , a no-kill shelter in Cambridge, MD.
Parks: Our local area boasts many of these locations, each having a variety of needs and opportunities. Many talents and skills are valuable to our local parks to support conservation. You can look for volunteers roles in gardening, cleaning, education, and special event development. Doubtless you have a local park just a stone’s throw away but if you need some inspiration of where to start check out (Laurel, DE), (Salisbury, MD), or (Pocomoke City, MD).
Museums: Full of culture and history, museums often welcome volunteers to support programs, special events, and daily operating. Give your time for maintenance, event coordination, or administrative duties and more. Salisbury’s has upcoming events for the fall and winter seasons and regularly need volunteers for these and normal operations.
This list of five places to look for local volunteer opportunities is not exhaustive and our Lower Eastern Shore communities have much need for your help. Reach out to your community today to do some good. Your efforts will be good for you and your mental health, too!
Delaware State Parks. “Parks Volunteer Info.” Delaware State Parks, https://www.destateparks.com/Volunteer.
“Get Involved.” Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art Salisbury MD, https://www.wardmuseum.org/get-involved/.
“Helping People, Changing Lives: The 6 Health Benefits of Volunteering.” Mayo Clinic Health System, 18 May 2017, https://mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/helping-people-changing-lives-the-6-health-benefits-of-volunteering.
Nicole, Ali. “Mental Wellness Moment on the Shore: Active Learning: Shorebread.” ShoreBread Eastern Shore Lifestyle Magazine, 26 Aug. 2019, https://shorebread.com/2019/08/23/mental-wellness-moment-on-the-shore-active-learning/.
Nicole, Ali. “Three Major Ways Pets Make Life Better.” Weirdly Well, 7 July 2019, https://weirdlywell.blogspot.com/2019/07/three-major-ways-pets-make-life-better.html.
“Volunteer.” Wicomico Public Library, http://www.wicomicolibraries.org/volunteer.
“Volunteer.” Maryland Food Bank, 2019, https://mdfoodbank.org/ways-to-give/volunteer/.
“Volunteer.” Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore, 2019, https://foodbankonline.org/how-to-help/donate-time/volunteer/.
“Volunteer at Baywater Animal Rescue.” Baywater Animal Rescue, https://www.baywateranimalrescue.org/volunteer.html.
“Volunteering & Community Service / Pemberton Historical Park, Salisbury MD.” Pemberton Park, https://www.pembertonpark.org/pemberton-park/about/volunteering-and-community-service.
“VOLUNTEERS.” Changing Fates Equine Rescue of DE, Inc., 29 Aug. 2019, https://www.changingfatesequine.org/info/display?PageID=514.