Some of you may be inspired by The Sunshine Journey, or have always been dreaming about doing voluntary work. I used to dream about it as well, but never found the opportunity to do it before. Working full-time, friends and family to see, work-outs to do, cleaning the house, relaxing etc. Nowadays I work full-time on my blog, and even though I might be a bit more flexible with time – my time is still limited and precious. Therefore I tested the possibilities to do voluntary work while having a full-time job.
I made an overview of possibilities based on the amount of hours you wish to give to voluntary work, as well as the moment you have the hours to spend:
1-2 hours to give:
If you have 1-2 hours to give, you can either commit to a certain voluntary task or option for flexible voluntary work – 1 to 2 hours per week.
There is always room for voluntary work and I discovered quiet some good options to do during evenings. You could consider doing any of these activities, giving only 2 hours one evening a week:
- Homework activities for children (1.5 hours) – There are a lot of guiding and support groups for children and students to work through their projects or excecises after school. And these groups are mostly based on volunteers as could always use a few more people to give personal support to these children. I personally tested this activity and I think it’s fun: it’s very personal (1-on-1), you help someone a lot (satisfying), it’s a light activity as you can sit down but it’s a perfect excersise for your own mind! I personally loved the fact I could help doing homework for the courses I work in today, so you can give real time examples. You will find homework groups and support in every town and neighborhood. NLcares and NLvoorelkaar offer flexible options to volunteer as homework supporter.
- Language support (2 hours) – A lot of people have difficulties learning a new language and the best way to practice it is by talking. So if you like to talk and help others, maybe volunteering as language supporter can be great for you. You can support and guide a person one-on-one (weekly/by-weekly) or you can join language-cafe’s, where people come together to speak and learn. It’s very satisfying to help someone feel at home and learn your language. You don’t need any skill, just a bit of patience. And it’s fun! A lot of times the cafe’s use games to skill the language. Language support and language cafe’s can be found in every city or bigger town.
- Neighborhood cafe (2.5 hours) – Do you like to cook or serve dinner, while fighting food waste? A increasing popular concept are neighborhood-cafe’s and restaurants – where neighbors meet and eat a meal together. These meals are made by volunteers from food that has been donated by supermarkets or restaurants. It’s such a good concept, making good meals while supporting neighbors having a good time, fighting loneliness and making contacts. Find out where your nearest neighborhood cafe is. In Amsterdam, Resto Van Harte offers evening shifts during weekdays of max 3 hours.
- Foodbank (2 hours) – Would you like to help the Foodbank but only have a little bit of time to spend? In many distribution centres of the foodbank, they offer evening shifts of just 2 hours nowadays. In Amsterdam, you can help packing the coolboxes during an evening shift. It’s an fairly easy task which can get your mind off of the hectic your faced with at work. Packing foodboxes for those who need a bit of help is very satisfying. To find yourself a voluntary task in the evening, please check your local Foodbank website, the general website or booking services as NLcares. (Voedselbank Nederland)
- Weekendschool (1 – 1.5 hours) – There are options for guiding and support groups for children and students to work through their homework during weekends as well. I think weekend-academy is fun: it’s very personal (1-on-1), you help someone a lot (satisfying), it’s a light activity as you can sit down but it’s a perfect excercise for your own mind! You will find weekend school in (almost) every town or city. NLcares and NLvoorelkaar offer flexible options to volunteer as homework supporter.
- Elderly homes (2 hours) – during weekends there are many activities organized in elderly where you can help out during weekends. Small activities such as high-tea, boardgames, music-afternoons or baking pancakes. Have a look (online) at an elderly home nearby and try it out.
- Sports (1-2 hours) – Sportclubs run on volunteers so if you like sports, whats a better way to volunteer then help out sports clubs? It’s active and relaxed whith lots of new people you meet. You can reach out to any of your favorite sportclubs nearby and with just two hours you can already give a training to pupils / be a referee or linesman at a game / take a bartending shift / manage a daily task / support their magazine or social media.
Half a day to give:
If you have 4-5 hours to give, you can either commit to a certain voluntary job or option for flexible voluntary work – 4 to 5 hours per week on one task or two times 1-2 hours (see above for my tips). Considering you work full-time during weekdays, volunteering 4-5 hours would be focussed on weekend-days.
During weekends, there are multiple activities you could join for half a day.
- Neighborhood cafe (4 hours) – Do you like to cook or serve dinner, while fighting food waste? A increasing popular concept are neighborhood-cafe’s and restaurants – where neighbors meet and eat a meal together. A lot of neighborhood cafe’s host a dinner with three courses during the weekend. These meals are prepared, served and cleaned by volunteers. It’s such a good concept, making good meals while supporting neighbors having a good time, fighting loneliness and making contacts. Find out where your nearest neighborhood cafe is. In multiple cities in The Netherlands, De Buurtbuik offers dinners during the weekend of max 4 hours. I did it last Saturday and it was such a nice ambiance, great food and lovely people:) Check their website to join as a volunteer sometimes (they are happy with one-time volunteers, every 6 weeks or whenever you like).
- Animal shelter (4 hours) – More a fan of cuddling and playing? You can volunteer for a few hours on Saturday at an animal shelter as well. They always need some extra hands during the weekends. Cuddling, playing, washing, cleaning or giving tours to find new adoption families; you may do it all! Find your nearest shelter easily online. They prefer mostly volunteers that come weekly, but please inform for their exact options.
- Homeless day care (4 hours) – As you may have read in a previous post, I helped out in the homeless day care on Saturdays. You can all read about my experiences here. This activity is easy and social, all you do is hand out coffee’s, tea’s, sandwiches and you may have good conversations with the people here. I personally love to do this every now and then. Find your nearest homeless day care online to see how you can help out or book your project in Amsterdam (called Blaka Watra) via NL-cares.
- Buddy program (4 hours) – Being a buddy to someone can be a real difference and such a meaningful role. And you can do it very flexible, focussing on activities you and your buddy both like. Being a buddy to someone is all about doing things together. Whether it’s groceries on Saturday, having a cup of tea in the afternoon, going to the gym or watching a movie at the cinema. Some buddy-programs offer bi-weekly buddy activities so you don’t need to give 4 hours weekly. You become a friend to your buddy and someone to look forward to see. Buddies are very diverse, so whatever you prefer to do: there is a buddy program for it!
- Sports (3-4 hours) – Sportclubs run on volunteers so if you like sports, whats a better way to volunteer then help out sports clubs? It can be active or relaxed whith lots of new people you meet. You can reach out to any of your favorite sportclubs nearby and with half a day you can really make a difference. Think of coaching a team, coordinating fields or activities, organizing events, build a website, a mailing or do administration for example. Some actitivities may even be done from home.
If you have a full day to spend on voluntary work, thats so wonderful! Please have a look at the ‘half-day’ activities I wrote about here and inform if you can expend activities to a day-task. I am sure most organizations would love to welcome you for a full day:)
Whatever you do, you do what you can and what you give is enough! Never forget that. You have a private life too. It’s always hard to consider whether you can do more, but please keep in mind you do what you can and thats so good. And the world is thankful for that.
Hope it inspires you and helps you!