So… for school one class that is mandatory for every student to take is called global civilization. It’s basically a class that teaches more about looking at the world around you and asks you to participate in service learning. Basically, I’m asked to do volunteer work for this class.

I am ashamed to admit that I had done very little volunteer work in my life. I think this is because I tend to be relatively shy in person (and I think this gets worse and worse the older I get). When I think of volunteering I think of something that is outside of my comfort zone and I am someone that prefers to not be outside of my comfort zone.

However, obviously with this class there’s not much of a way around it. And frankly, I’m a little appalled with myself for not doing more volunteer work, especially since I don’t have a job right now.

The thing is, I’m not sure how to go about figuring out HOW to volunteer. The only times I’ve ever volunteered before, choices were presented to me and I just picked one and was told where and when to go. I’ve never had to go out for myself and find the volunteer work.

So, my question for all of you is this: if you volunteer, how did you go about finding out how to volunteer? And for someone that’s a little shy, like me, what do you suggest for volunteer work?

Hopefully you all can help me out! Because I am just a smidge nervous!



  1. says

    Our university had a whole service-learning program. Also, some of my professors were actively involved in volunteering.

    I usually found places by getting to know what professors do outside of the classroom, asking around or reading the newspaper.

    One of the best opportunities I had was volunteering in an elementary school in the inner city of Orlando. I worked with 4th graders by helping them look at writing in a more creative way (rather than that ugly standardized testing way). We did fun poetry projects and other creative writing exercises.

    If you like the idea of volunteering through writing, see if your university is connected with the public schools in the area.

  2. says

    I know what you mean about being shy…but once you get out there and start working you'll see how things pick up and that shyness just falls away :)


  3. says

    OH girl!!! I can totally help you– this is what I do for a living! :)

    OK, first things first- places to check:

    1. Volunteermatch.org a lot of communities have listings on there and you can sort them out.

    2. Ask schools, daycares, head start programs- they are always looking for classroom help! Especially daycares. It can be reading, playing on the playground, art projects, whatever. That's always fun and kids will think you are awesome. That's always uplifting!

    3. Call your local United Way- they can tell you what non profit agencies in your area do stuff you're interested in.

    4. Call a local women's shelter. This is an AMAZING volunteer opportunity.

    5. AND, if you want to do something more long term and would be a good piece to college- check out AmeriCorps. This is GREAT to have on a resume.

    Email me if you need more help or if you have an idea of what you'd like to do and I'll see what I can find for you!

  4. says

    I volunteer… and by volunteer i mean i signed up, went to the orientation and havent actually gone back yet… sigh… i will though!

    I think its best to choose something you are passionate about. And even when shy, its such a supportive environment, everyone is there working towards one cause that people are pretty nice! Its not like its a competitive work environment.

    I "work" with 3 charities. I decided i wanted to help Australia, my community and the world.

    1. Australia- Im volunteering with a popular health van that goes around to each school in the country. Thats like a network type thing that we can all apply our skills to like PR.
    2. The community- i LOVE animals. So i volunteer at the pound, they always need people to walk dogs or play with cats.
    3. my boss has a charity working in east timor so i do alot of work on that too..

    the 2 that are not work related i just went onto the websites of charities that interested me to see if they had any vacancies.

    You will feel amazing once you do it :)

  5. says

    I love service learning! I'm a secondary education major, and I've been looking into this quite a bit as something to do with my students. As far as volunteer work that I do, I found it through my university, local road races, and the big organizations in my city. For example, I will help with global youth service day through my school, I volunteer with road races frequently, and I work at the local mission every Friday. Schools are always looking for volunteers if you like working with kids. I hope this helps, and enjoy whatever you choose!

  6. says

    I do LOTS of volunteer work and feel like I've been on a million non-profit boards.
    Is there a local volunteer agency where you live? Our city has one where people can sign up the they tell you about opportunities.
    For the most part, I think libraries and museums always need volunteers, so do botanical gardens. If it's a non-profit, they LOVE volunteers and will be more than happy to talk to you.

  7. says

    I always looked for things I was interested in. For example, I volunteered at a local children's museum — so much fun! I also volunteered at a local children's abuse center. For those ones I just called the organizations, since they were non-profit, and asked if they needed volunteers. Both gave a resounding 'yes!' We also just did a big project for our local domestic violence shelter who I know is ALWAYS looking for volunteers.

    I have signed up for a lot of volunteer work through my university: Friends of the Elderly, after school club programs, etc. There are TONS of opportunities out there. I think this is an awesome project!

  8. says

    I do volunteer works too but mostly upon the recommendations of friends and acquaintances.

    I do volunteer works at the San Francisco Food Bank whenever I'm in the US… it's fun and the feeling of being able to extend your services to those in need is just too fabulous.

  9. says

    sorry darling, today can't give any advice, never done it… maybe you can chose a topic and do a bit of research on google and find out a local charity to help along? just an idea… hope it helps, im sure other will have better ideas :)
    Good luck!!

  10. says

    volunteering is so rewarding! i know boys and girls club has an application to fill out to volunteer, me and my roommates have volunteered at the local animal shelter too! i think most places you just have to call or look them up on the internet to find out how to volunteer there.

  11. says

    I did a lot of volunteer work for animal shelters. Actually, a pretty fun form of volunteer work is at those animal adoption fairs that they hold in front of PETCO and PETSMART every weekend.

    They usually need people who will walk the dogs, and play with the kittens, and sometimes ask questions. It's really rewarding, and you get to interact with both people and animals. Usually if you stop by the adoption fair you can find out information on how to sign up to volunteer. :)

  12. says

    Volunteering IS rewarding! Is it specified which kind of volunteer work you have to do?

    One thing I might suggest if you are shy talking to people is volunteer with animals if you are allowed. They aren't judgy so it won't matter if you are awkward. :)

  13. says

    volunteer work can be very difficult if you have to deal with those who are less fortunate but at the same time can be really rewarding because the changes you make on their lives are experiences you take for ever

  14. says

    I hear ya. There is so many different organizations I want to help I get overwhelmed and do nothing.

    You're either an activist or an inactivist! Says my coworker…

  15. says

    Krysten… I know how you feel, I was nervous about volunteering because in that arena I can be shy, but I thought about some local opportunities and things that I might be really good at. I love working with children, and it isn't daunting at all. I started volunteering at a local low-income school with a child who lived at a homeless shelter. My time with her was inspirational, and I think we both enjoyed spending time together. There are several wonderful programs like this, one is called Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Also, generally if you go to one of the local schools, they are always looking for volunteers! Good luck!

  16. says

    i know here in san francisco they have a website where they list every single possible volunteer opportunity, and it's categorized by type of service and length of commitment. i would google your area and see if something like that exists. or if you have yelp in your area, you could ask for other locals what they recommend.

    otherwise, i would just think about what type of service you want to experience and then look up locations. usually they'll have a section on their website for volunteering. for instance, if you want to work with animals, you could look up shelters or zoos. or if you wanted to work with kids, you could contact your school district (being that i work in schools, i can say that they are often so glad to have helpers). especially with summer coming, there are probably lots of kid's camps/programs that will need more volunteers. and kids are usually much easier to work with when it comes to shyness.

    as for the shyness, for me, i just have to take a deep breath and do it. usually after those first couple awkward days things start feeling more comfortable and my shyness isn't a problem. it's just that first hurdle of committing – so hard! but in the end, it will be such a good experience, and maybe even a little liberating.

  17. says

    Volunteering can be a lot of work if you don't know where to go. I rarely do it as well just because I'm too nervous to take that first step. Plus I always feel like doing it along is silly and I have no friends to go with me. I know that is no excuse, but so be it.
    Good luck with this class. Sounds like an awesome thing – really. I kind of wish we would have had one of those when I was in school

  18. says

    Pick something you're passionate about and ask your friends where they volunteer. I found opportunities on idealist.org. There's nothing worse than volunteering at a place that isn't equipped to handle volunteers, so to be sure you get the most out of your time, I'd ask around first.

  19. says

    Hmm I totally get you. I'm shy too, but honestly once you get to an event its so awesome.
    If you really don't want to interact with people you could always volunteer at an animal shelter.
    I've also done Habitat for Humanity which was a lot of fun.

  20. says

    Big Brothers Big Sisters is awesome because kids are not shy, so you don't have to be either. If you live in a town that doesn't have a branch, contact your school counselors, say that you'd love to work one on one with a child. They'll probably place you in the child's free period playing games or helping with homework.

  21. says

    The city that I work for has a volunteer services department. You contact them and they'll interview you then you can pick and choose how you want to volunteer: youth special events, stream clean, stuffing envelopes, your choice!!!

    Also find out what your classmates are doing, maybe if you all get together and do it, it won't be as nerve racking. I'd volunteer if I was there with you OR I'd have a lot of things you could volunteer to help me with at work! I heart our volunteers because they make my life sooooo much easier!

  22. says

    Working for a non-profit we only survive because of our volunteers! I would suggest finding a cause that you've been affected by and then researching organizations in your area. There's all sorts of opportunities through events and also support in the office. We even look for volunteers to do a monthly piece for our newsletter, could be perfect for you if you find an opportunity like that!

  23. says

    The only time I've volunteered was with a school for a school assignment and at the SPCA to receive scholarship credit. Most places have something on their websites about volunteer opportunities.

    Check out an animal shelter! I worked at one (but I just cleaned their vet office which was NOT FUN!!) and see what opportunities are there for you.

  24. says

    I know from reading that you aren't active in any particular religion, but don't let that stop you from volunteering with a church-based organization or project. Because, lets face it, it is mostly churches that run homeless shelters, food shelves, soup kitchens, daycare for low-income families, support for newly arrived refugees, english classes and other support for immigrants, domestic abuse shelters, etc.

    Check out Catholic Charities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. They have immediate needs and will work with finding a good fit for individual volunteers.

    Lutheran Social Services has similar projects as well, with specific listings in the St. Paul/East Metro area.

    Thing that is great about these two organizations is that they know how to utilize volunteers so that the volunteer contributes something significant to the work they are doing, which makes a huge difference if you feeling fulfilled or rewarded as a volunteer.

    You can also search for volunteer opportunities on http://www.idealist.org

    Let us know what you decide.

  25. says

    Volunteer at an animal shelter.

    Or volunteer for your local Parks and Rec department.

    Or go to your city/town hall, there are always volunteer opportunities there.

  26. says

    hello! i've done volunteering at a local charity shop in the past and i LOVED it. They are always looking for help, and if you are too shy you can always be out the back sorting and pricing the goods, although it's a great way to get over it and such a laugh, the general public are soo funny. I would definately do this again if i had more time on my hands, but business is booming at the mo :)

  27. says

    Aww that is so sweet of you to get more involved in your community. I am embarrassed to admit that I have not done much volunteering in my life either. Your readers make some good suggestions.

  28. says

    That's really cool. I have volunteered, with the Red Cross, and it was tremendously rewarding. I'd like to do something again, I certainly do my best every day to be of service to the world around me. I know that United Way is usually a good roundup of local volunteer opportunities, it's a global organization, but the local offices serve local needs, so they could probably help you. And I think that once you're assigned to a task, it will get you over the shyness, it's always easier to talk to people when I'm doing something. Can't wait to hear all about it!

  29. says

    I actually did some volunteer work during high school at a local bowling alley & assisted adults with special needs. I'm a bit shy too, but after getting to know these adults and helping them & getting to know them it wasn't so bad.

    (Although I was a bit scared when they got frustrated or angry when they didn't bowl so well). lol

    I would say just to contact the supervisor of the organization you want to help out at or just look them up online :)

  30. says

    Hey lady! I'm shy as well, but actually find that volunteering brings out a different side of me. When I volunteer, I feel like it becomes more about what/who I'm helping with and less about worrying about myself, how I'm feeling, etc. Do you like animals and/or kids? If you do, look for volunteer projects in those areas. Kids and animals don't care if you're shy! :) I used to volunteer at our children's hospital. If you go to any hospital's website, most of them have links for volunteering. Are there any local humane societies or children's museums around you? Those are some great places too, and they are usually looking for all kinds of voluneers! What about your local pak district? Many park districts having programming for kids, adults, etc. I know my park district holds holiday parties for kids and they ask for volunteers to help. I hope this gives you some ideas! Once you find something you enjoy, you may find job opportunities open up and you expand your interests. Enjoy!

  31. says

    thanks for the sweet words on my blog! I'm loving yours too, especially the volunteering part!!

    I always found volunteering was easier if you had a buddy. It's a lot less intimidating if you have someone to go along with you.

    I would recommend checking out your local Habitat for Humanity (great excuse to be in the sunshine), or if you're not ready for a project quite so large…

    try going to your local town hall. A lot of times they have senior centers, where they might need help with activities. Elementary schools are great too, especially if they have an after school program. I always loved reading stories to the kiddies.

    No matter what you do, I hope you have a fantastic volunteer experience! Keep me posted!!

  32. says

    You're going to love volunteering so, so much! It's such a rewarding experience and I know everyone says that, but it's true. My suggestion would be to volunteer at an elementary school. Teachers are always looking for extra help and there's no reason to be shy is front of 20 six year olds. As for contacting, you will have to go through a process if you want to work with kids — fingerprinting, etc. — but it will be worth it! Honestly, you could walk into a local elem. school's front office and they'll tell you what to do next. Good luck, volunteering is one of my favorite things to do!

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