Volunteering has a valuable effect on people, communities, and society as a whole. If you’re looking for ways to give back, volunteer opportunities in Boston are plentiful.
There are various benefits that come from volunteering. Putting other people or other causes ahead of your own issues every once in a while actually will make you feel much better and more grounded. Giving back feels good.
Health and wellbeing: Volunteering can reduce the effects of stress, anger, and anxiety. Meaningful connections made through helping and working with other people from all walks of life also boosts self-confidence.
Learning new skills: Consider the skills you have to share or wish to develop, as well as your specific personality. During the experience, act like a sponge and soak up all the new skills and information that you can.
Connecting with people: Through volunteering, you can meet different kinds of people and make new friends. It can help you feel part of something outside of your bubble of work and personal life. Especially if you’re relocating from a new city, it’s a great way to meet an outgoing and conscious group of new friends. Shared volunteering activities can strengthen ties to the community and sharpen up social skills. Career: Thinking of a career change, looking for more experience in a specific sector, or to develop certain skills? Volunteering can help advance these career goals. It’s also an opportunity to develop crucial core skills like teamwork, communication and project management.
Identify your reasons for volunteering and what causes are important to you. Are you motivated to learn more about an organization, to meet new people or get a different perspective? Visit an organization you’re passionate about helping in person to find out more about its services and people before committing long-term. Ultimately, this will get you on the right track to finding a cause to match your motivation, time and interests.
To get you started, here’s what we consider to be the top 10 volunteer opportunities in Boston.
Community Servings believes food heals. They make nutritious, made-from-scratch meals for those who are suffering from chronic illnesses and are unable to cook for themselves. The meals are medically tailored, meeting nutritional needs for clients with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other life-threatening illnesses. Volunteers work in the kitchen, prepping and packaging, or delivering meals to clients all across Boston. Meals are also provided for a caregiver (parent/spouse) and children under the age of 18. If your workplace is looking to volunteer together, this not-for-profit can accommodate groups of up to 15 in the kitchen.
Families with children remain the fastest growing segment of the homeless population. Unfortunately, there are an estimated 4,100 homeless families the Greater Boston area. That number is including 840+ families who are living in motels. Heading Home strives to solve this crisis by providing supported pathways to self-sufficiency, which begins with a home. Volunteers can support homeless families by preparing “home starter kits”, sponsoring birthday parties for children, or decorating shelters.
Get involved with the growth of arts in your community by volunteering at the MFA in Boston. As one of the most comprehensive art museums in the world, they offer a range of opportunities across departments. From assisting visitors as a Gallery Instructor or Public Program Usher to office-based arts administration. All volunteer opportunities require a commitment for at least 6–9 months. To be considered, complete the online application to document your interests, experience, and skills, and how they could be utilized. Who knows, you may like it so much you’ll sign up to be a museum member!
This organization offers low-cost temporary apartments for kids and their families while they battle cancer. Especially for when they are in between hospital visits, Christopher’s Haven is more than just a place to stay. They offer a support system and community amongst other people facing similar situations. There are many ways to volunteer, from hosting arts and crafts days to cooking family meals. Contact the manager of family services and fill out their volunteer form to find out more.
Are you looking for a fully-furnished and equipped apartment to be close to a loved one undergoing medical treatment? Keep in mind that Blueground offers flexible leases for stays of one month or more. All of the apartments are centrally-located, many of which are walking distance to Tufts, Mass General and the Boston Medical Center.
Declutter and donate your old books for a good cause with the Prison Book Program. This organization sends books to people in prison to support their educational, vocational and personal development for rehabilitation. To get more involved, volunteers can ‘pick’ books for prisoners from their handwritten requests. Those with a keen eye for detail can ‘invoice’ the books, checking if they are appropriate and free from forbidden items.
Are you interested in matching your skills and interests with your love of animals? Volunteers at Last Hope K9 can assist in a number of areas. From transporting dogs to helping with special events, or even getting creative through content writing. LHK9 is an all-breed rescue organization. Their mission is to save abandoned, neglected and abused dogs from high-kill shelters across the United States. If you’re looking for a four-legged companion, The Boston Harbor Center also has dogs for adoption.
Birthday Wishes makes a difference in the lives of homeless children and their families by helping them to celebrate a birthday. For children experiencing homelessness, families are often unable to maintain routines and rituals. As a volunteer, you can bring some joy by delivering birthday boxes to over 34,000 homeless children. Volunteers can build birthday boxes (based on their age, gender, and interests) and host toy collection drives.
Classical music lovers take note. You can support one of the world’s greatest orchestras by volunteering with The Boston Symphony Association of Volunteers. You’ll be able to lead tours of the historic BSAV Symphony Hall. Or support educational outreach at the Instrument playground, demonstrating basic instrumental techniques to children. Volunteering with the BSAV requires a minimum pledge of 20 hours of service annually.
Are you passionate about preserving natural environments in urban areas? If so, volunteering with Boston Harbor Islands could be a great match. Only minutes from downtown, the Harbor Islands, are the largest recreational open space in Eastern Massachusetts.
There are many varied roles up for grabs on the Volunteers-in-Parks program. You can work side-by-side with expert rangers to share information about the islands with visitors. Or plant native species and collect date for ranger-guided projects. They also offer single day volunteering called ‘Stewardship Saturdays’.
Want to help enhance the existing public spaces around the city? Consider lending your green thumb to the Cleaning and Greening Initiative run by the environmental group Groundwork Somerville. This community-based program helps keep Boston’s green spaces beautiful. Volunteers can cultivate and clean up parks in the city suburbs by collecting trash. Plus you can take part in gardening projects like spring planting and bulb blitzing.
Volunteering can have so many benefits. Not only just for you, but also for the community around you. If you’ve just relocated to the city or are just on the hunt for a new network, this can be a really exciting time! It can also be nerve-wracking. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your volunteering experience from the very first day.
Attitude: When beginning a volunteering experience, or any experience for that matter, try and take a positive perspective with a can-do attitude. After all, you may be asked to do things that aren’t overly exciting or glamorous. Keep an open mind. When it comes to interacting with fellow volunteers or those in need, try not to prejudge someone without knowing what kind of life they’ve had or what type of a journey they’ve been on. After all, volunteering is all about understanding and helping others. Put yourself in their shoes.
Ask questions: On the first day of your volunteering opportunity, and throughout the experience, ask questions. Try to get a crystal clear understanding of what’s expected of you. Bear in mind of course, that volunteering is not the same as having a full-time paid job. You should be assigned tasks that ultimately have a direct impact on the cause and on society.
Make contacts: Don’t let this chance to meet new people pass you by. Be friendly and sociable. You never know when a contact may come in handy in the future or who may become a new friend.
Reflect: Once your volunteering experience is over, make sure to reflect back on it. Especially think about the people that you’ve met and the skills that you’ve gained. Documenting your experience through social media can also inspire others to volunteer and give back. However, never feel obligated to share the fact that you are volunteering online. Giving back to others should be for selfless reasons, not for selfie opportunities.