Last week, the people of Boston, the Commonwealth, and our nation were stunned by the tragedy that struck the Boston Marathon. In the wake of these events, people throughout Massachusetts and around the world united to support those affected by the bombings: people who had just finished running 26.2 miles continued on to hospitals to donate blood, residents opened their homes to stranded runners and their families, and donations flooded in to the One Fund Boston. The power of community and volunteering to make the world a better place was a beacon of hope in a difficult situation. National Volunteer Week (April 21-27) provides another opportunity to make a difference in your community and improve the lives of others. Some ideas:
1. Volunteer to help with disaster relief
Volunteers constitute about 95 percent of the American Red Cross workforce. Volunteers make it possible to respond to nearly 70,000 disasters every year, including those like the Boston Marathon Tragedy. Find out about the needs in your area by searching for current volunteer opportunities.
2. DCR Park Serve Day
This Saturday, join Department of Conservation and Recreation staff, park partners and friends in a statewide volunteer service day to clean and beautify a park near you! Click here to find a location and register to participate.
3. Work with Veterans
You can make a difference in the life of a soldier. Opt to volunteer at Soldiers’ Homes in Chelsea or Holyoke, which provide quality health care to honorably discharged wartime veterans, or work with organizations such as the New England Center for Homeless Veterans or Volunteers of America.
4. Assist individuals supported by the Department of Disability Services (DDS)
Direct personal involvement between people with and without disabilities can deepen and strengthen community life for everyone. Visit the DDS website for more information on volunteer opportunities, or check out Best Buddies Massachusetts and the Special Olympics.
5. Elderly Persons
The Executive Office of Elder Affairs maintains a list of ways to get involved in the lives of the elderly. For those of you with a car, consider joining a volunteer driver program to provide a ride to elderly persons who would not otherwise have transportation.
This is not a comprehensive list of volunteer opportunities in Massachusetts, but hopefully will prompt you to think about how to get more involved in your community. Visit Mass.gov to learn more about volunteering, and explore Connect and Serve to find opportunities tailored to your interests and talents.
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