I wonder how many of us take for granted the abundant number of organizations that serve and protect the residents of South Shore.
Whether for ourselves, family members, friends, even strangers, we count on them to be there when their services are most needed.
Nonprofit groups like the Sun City Center Emergency Squad, Campaign Against Human Trafficking – Southshore, ECHO and the CATE Foundation don’t operate in a vacuum. They and countless others need volunteers to help them survive. And most don’t ask for a major commitment of time.
This year, if you’ve not already committed to doing so, why not set aside a few hours to do some kind of volunteer work? Choose something you like to do, and then do that something for others.
If you like animals, you could volunteer three hours a week for C.A.R.E., doing things like feeding or socializing its animals, laundering towels, cleaning or answering phones.
If you enjoy children, you could spend a few hours a week in the PCAT Family Literacy Program or Hope Fund for Children SouthShore tutoring kids to read.
If Mother Nature is your thing, volunteers are always needed at the Camp Bayou Outdoor Learning Center. Or you could sign up at the Firehouse Cultural Center to help with assorted arts-related or fundraising activities.
Speaking of fundraising, events like the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s or South Shore Relay for Life depend on volunteers for their success.
And organizations helping seniors are always in need of volunteers. If elderly folks are your passion, you could drive one of Samaritan Services’ SCC Ride vehicles a minimum of three hours per month, transporting them around town or to doctors’ appointments out of town.
And don’t forget South Shore’s libraries, military organizations, schools, chambers of commerce, churches or hospitals. Regardless of your age, there are so many ways to serve.
Volunteering has lots of benefits. It’s a great way to meet people with similar interests and make new friends, improve your social skills and help your community.
It’s good for your mental and physical health and has been shown to reduce stress, anger and anxiety. It’s also a fun way to pursue what interests you and provides a sense of purpose.
Let’s all choose to help others in a big way in 2020 by volunteering for one of the many organizations that help us. Pick a group that appeals to your interests or passions, and then start making a difference.
The South Shore Coalition for Mental Health and Aging’s 2020 Community Resource Guide is a great place to start. You can get one at any of the area’s chambers of commerce, SouthShore Regional Library or view its contents online at mentalhealthandaging.org or call 813-419-4902. You could even volunteer to answer that phone!
Let’s do this, people. I’m going to put my money where my mouth is and join you!
Lois Kindle is a freelance writer and columnist for The Observer News. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.