Places to Volunteer in Indianapolis in

There are many opportunities for volunteering in the Indianapolis Area. Before finding a place to spend your time, however, you must take an inventory of yourself and the type of volunteering that you would like to do. Don’t think that you have to volunteer at the first place that tries to recruit you. The place, people and allotted timeframe has to be right for you. Certainly, volunteering is an altruistic act, but in order for you and your fellow volunteers, as well as the population that you serve to obtained the desired results, you must examine yourself, your motives and your capabilities.

Why do you want to volunteer? The most common answers to this question are: Because I am bored, and Because I enjoy helping people. Don’t volunteer if you are bored. This is the wrong reason to volunteer and you will probably find that you dislike what you are doing because your expectation for the experience is to jolt you from your boredom.

What are your interests, talents and experiences? Someone who does not like children should not mentor them. Someone who likes working with people should not volunteer to stuff envelopes. If you like cooking, then, you might like to prepare meals for a local soup kitchen. If you enjoy reading, then, you may be interested in reading for a local service that records the Indianapolis Star, so that the blind and print impaired can listen to it by telephone. You would visit: Indiana Reading and Information Services

1630 N Meridian St Ste 2105, Indianapolis, IN 46202 If you have experience in substance abuse, you might want to offer your mentoring services to someone who has yet to overcome these struggles.

There are many different kinds of opportunities. Some of these opportunities include: help in a summer camp or church bible school, work as a cook or server in a soup kitchen, teach your favorite sport to children at the YMCA or other clubs with many children, tutor, offer swim lessons, offer music lessons, accompany and assist a disabled person who needs an attendant, work as a caretaker or companion for hospice, walk dogs, clean kennels at the local animal shelter, stuff envelopes for an organization, assist in making the public aware of a worthy cause or service, be a puppy raiser for a service animal training facility(note: there are at least three service animal organizations in Indiana), be a driver for someone who is not able to drive, man the telephone of a fund raising drive, teach a self defense class to women, teach English to immigrants, help at clothing drives/canned food drives, provide house cleaning or restoration services and help rebuild computers to give to needy people or organizations. Any skill that you have can be offered as some assistance to others who lack the skill. Any of your resources or capacities can be used as a benefit and springboard for volunteering.

How much time do you have to spare? Are you looking for a long term volunteering opportunity or one that only requires a few days, weeks or months of your time? These are important to decide before you begin volunteering. If you are looking for something short term, then look for organizations that have short term goals. You might want to volunteer at a specific event, summer camp, or function. These are short term volunteer opportunities. If you volunteer for Habitat for Humanity or Big Brothers/Big Sisters, they might require more time than you are able to give.

Assess your emotional readiness before plunging into a volunteering opportunity. While Hospice might need you to volunteer and you might be a compassionate caretaker, can you handle the fact that there is lots of death and sickness surrounding the people you are helping? If you volunteer at a Boys or Girls Club, can you develop a bond with a child? You might want to think of possible boundaries before you begin. On the flipside, can you be compassionate to those who are outside your particular culture? Can you effectively volunteer without either blaming the victim or displaying apathy for the people that you are benefiting? If you are a bit intolerant of other cultures, then hosting a foreign exchange student or opening up your home to international college students would not be an appropriate volunteer opportunity. If you enjoy getting to know and understand other cultures, you can contact either IUPUI, Butler or University of Indianapolis and ask about their programs for college international students. Examine your comfort zone. Certainly, some people can and sometimes do go outside of it, but it is essential that you know where your comfort zone lies. This comfort zone will extend into the religious and political arenas. If you are not comfortable with religion and how it might be fused into an organization’s policies and philosophies, then, it is best to avoid faith based organizations.

Now you are ready to choose an organization. I have attempted to select a variety of organizations to fit almost anyone’s needs, personality and interests.

Volunteers of America:

(317) 780-2277

This volunteer network offers emergency services with many different hotlines and help lines.

Community Health Network (317) 887-7199 has a variety of volunteer positions for people with different medical and social interests.

WFYI is having a pledge drive in June. They need volunteers to answer phones. They are also collaborating to sponsor a carnival for Riley Children’s hospital and need all types of volunteers. (1630 N. Meridian St Indianapolis, IN)

A new Domestic Violence Center set to open in Summer of 2009 is in need of Volunteers for fundraising events! Lots of Fun and NO experience necessary!

Denise Abrell 317-306-1805. Many domestic violence centers use volunteers as receptionists and assistants. Most hospitals in the Indianapolis area are in need of volunteers as candy stripers and baby rockers. The IU Medical Center, Wishard, Riley children’s Hospital, Methodist Hospital, St. Vincent’s and St. Francis Hospital are all good places to review when you are looking to volunteer.

Check out your local United Way. They are always funding organizations that need volunteers. The Indiana website is

www.uwci.org/volunteer.htm

Address

3901 N. Meridian Street

Indianapolis, IN 46208

Phone

(317) 921-1271

volunteer@uwci.org

You can also volunteer individually. If you have a neighbor that needs help with their yard, children or shopping, this would also be considered as volunteering. The possibilities are endless.

Whatever you do, treat the population that you are assisting with respect. And, enjoy your volunteering experience. If you open your heart and mind, you will probably learn many lessons while you are volunteering.