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Make a difference in your community!

Volunteering is a great way to be part of something bigger than oneself. It provides the satisfaction of giving back to the community and doing something worthwhile. Many opportunities exist throughout Massachusetts to get involved in communities and improve the lives of others. These range from special needs assistance and youth work, advocacy and fundraising, to working in soup kitchens and helping out at animal shelters. By donating time to those in need, you can make a difference.

1.       Massachusetts Service Alliance (MSA)

The Massachusetts Service Alliance (MSA) is a community-based organization that serves as the state commission on service and volunteerism. MSA supports thousands of people throughout the year, and volunteers across the Commonwealth help by tutoring and mentoring children, cleaning up beaches, restoring and maintaining trails, building affordable housing, and providing legal assistance to low-income families.

2.       Connect and Serve

Throughout Massachusetts, Connect & Serve helps residents find volunteer organizations in their local communities. By using a quick search function and a monthly service projects calendar, individuals can find volunteer projects in their area. Volunteer opportunities exist for both the young and young at heart, including: mentoring children; helping veterans, healthy living, keeping Massachusetts green, and helping during disasters.

3.       Volunteering After a Disaster

Volunteers are always needed in the weeks, months, and years after disaster strikes. What most people don’t realize is that self-deploying, untrained volunteers can actually cause more problems than they alleviate in a disaster situation. The best thing to do is to wait for instructions from those on the scene.

During an emergency, first responders determine what supplies and other resources are needed, and then put out a call for assistance. This may take a few hours or even days. Volunteers can best help victims by working with an experienced disaster relief agency like The Red Cross and Salvation Army.

Get Volunteer Training

FEMA’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is an ideal training program for people who might want to volunteer in an area affected by disaster. CERT gives people basic disaster response skills such as; fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Before applying to assist an agency during an emergency, citizens should get certified and receive training in disaster response.

The holidays are inevitably a hectic time full of social events, shopping, and a time for family members and friends to reconnect with one another. Amid the frenzy the holiday season can bring, don’t forget the great gift you can offer to those in need — your time.

What are the ways in which you volunteer your time to help others? What was your experience? What are the lessons you can share? Comment below or tweet us at @MassGov.

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