You’ve heard you should get involved, get out there, and meet new people, but how? Where should you start? There are many ways to meet people when you move to a new city, and my favorite is volunteering. Again, the tricky part is finding out where to go first, so I’ve got some tips for you on ways to volunteer after you move.
You Might Stumble Into an Opportunity
After moving to the Chicago suburbs, I saw a flyer for a family community service event. I immediately put the date on my calendar so we wouldn’t miss it. When Saturday arrived, my three kids and I hurried to the event and saw tables filled with crafts for the kids. The kids could make cards for veterans, placemats for Meals on Wheels, bracelets for victims of domestic violence, and bags for the local food pantry. We spent a day making crafts together and we talked about the organizations we were helping. I couldn’t ask for a better day with the kids.
As I tidied each station while the kids finished their crafts, a woman remarked, “Looks good. You should volunteer with us.” That thought hadn’t occurred to me, but it suddenly seemed like the best idea ever. So, I did. I reached out to The Kindness Connection and asked how I could help. I joined the team – an incredible group of kind, smart woman – and we strategized ways to help the community and get families involved.
So, yes, I stumbled into this great gig. But, that’s how it works sometimes. When you keep your eyes open for unexpected opportunities, good things happen.
Ways to Volunteer After You Move Somewhere New:
Find Your Passion
What do you love to do? You don’t need to consider a cause here, just think about what makes you smile. Do you love music or theater or animals or politics? If you could take a month off of work to do anything you wanted, what would it be? Would you read, garden, cook or play Sudoku? Whatever it is, you can find a way to be around the things you love while you volunteer.
Reach out to the local theater or music hall and volunteer to be an usher. Contact a local political office to help out with answering phones. Look into the local animal shelter, library, botanic garden, or nursing home to see how you can help. Whatever your interest is, there’s some way you can help others while you do it.
Use a Volunteer Search Engine to Find Ways to Volunteer
Maybe you don’t know what you want to do. All you know is that you want to help. Use one of these volunteer search engines to see what volunteer opportunities are in your area: Idealist, Points of Light, Volunteer Match, and Foodpantries.org
Check out the National Charities
Habitat for Humanity and the American Red Cross may already be on your radar, but to expand your search further, check out Charity Watch. This website will help you find the top-rated charities, divided by category.
Photo Credit: Photos by Juliet
Your community needs you. There are an endless number of opportunities for you to volunteer at the hospital, nursing homes, schools, and libraries. If you’re not sure where to start, contact your local Chamber of Commerce. Look into Meetup groups that focus on ways to volunteer in your neighborhood.
Become a Role Model
Last weekend I went to a coach training session for Girls on the Run. The moderator described her coaching days as her “happy days”, the time when everything just felt right and good. Help a child through a mentorship program like Girls on the Run, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, The National Mentoring Partnership, Girls Who Code, or Best Buddies International.
Volunteer as a Family
If you recently moved with your family, this is a great time to bond and to give back together. Schools and religious organizations are good starting points to find ways to volunteer. You can also look into organizations like Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts or National Charity League. In the Chicago area, you can find ways to volunteer through The Kindness Connection, Bernie’s Book Bank or The Honeycomb Project.
Did you volunteer as a way to meet people when you moved to a new city? What impact did it have on you feeling more settled into your new home? If you have local recommendations for volunteer opportunities, please comment below and tell us where you live. Thanks for your input!