Nowhere is the phrase “A little goes a long way” more fitting than when it comes to volunteering. Acts big and small can make a huge difference, and there’s no reason to think you don’t have enough bandwidth. Whether you’re a retiree with newfound free time or a busy working mom trying to juggle career and family, there’s a volunteer opportunity that fits your lifestyle—and your schedule. Here, we break some down based on time commitment required.
A 3-6 month project
- Opportunity: Match Grant Mentoring
- Organization: Journey’s End Refugee Services
- How you can help: Befriend newly arrived refugees, help them acclimate to their neighborhood and assist with job-related activities
- Ideal for: Anyone with evening and weekend availability
- For more: Visit Jersbuffalo.org
8-10 hours/week (average)
- Opportunity: Hope Center Clothing Boutique
- Organization: Matt Urban Center
- Duties: Hang donated clothing on racks, offer customer assistance
- Ideal for: Those who can spare time within the hours of 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Mon.-Fri.
- For more: Call 893-7222 ext. 313
1-3 hours/week or month
- Opportunity: Volunteer driver
- Organization: Hearts and Hands
- Duties: Give seniors rides to grocery stores, doctor appointments and other necessary visits, along with transportation to places like favorite coffee shops or bridge games that keep them active and part of the community
- Ideal for: Any licensed driver over the age of 18
- For more: Call 406-8311 ext. 102
2 hours/week, same day and time
- Opportunity: Adoption Greeter
- Organization: SPCA Serving Erie County
- Duties: Welcome and direct guests as they enter the shelter
- Ideal for: Those who want to help animals find their forever home, but may not be capable of walking or caring for shelter pets
- For more: Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Opportunity: Tour Guide Docent
- Organization: Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens
- Duties: General knowledge of botany, plant families and environmental requirements for specific plants. Training provided for new guides.
- Ideal for: Green thumbs
- For more: Call 827-1584 ext. 207
One lunch hour/month
- Opportunity: Adopt-A-Route program
- Organization: Meals on Wheels for WNY
- Duties: Cover a set weekly route of meal delivery with a group of 8
- Ideal for: Companies and groups
- For more: Visit Mealsonwheelswny.org
One-time dinner program
- Opportunity: Cooks for Kids
- Organization: Ronald McDonald Charities of WNY
- Duties: Plan, shop for and prepare “home-away-from-home” dinner for guests of the Ronald McDonald House. Meals are prepared at the house.
- Ideal for: Groups of 10 people or under, aged 14 and over
- For more: Call 883-1177 to schedule a date
The time it takes to make a pie
- Opportunity: Pie-It Forward
- Organization: Buffalo City Mission
- Duties: Bake a pie for community-wide drive for home-bound people in need as part of the Mission’s Thanksgiving meal for the Turkey Express.
- Ideal for: Individuals, schools and businesses (Artisan Kitchens once baked in their showroom)
- For more: Visit Buffalocitymission.org
Keep in mind
Many of these organizations have multiple volunteer opportunities. If those listed aren’t exact matches for your skills or interests, visit their website or give them a call to see how else you can help. For a more complete list of volunteer opportunities in Western New York, visit VolunteerWNY.org.
- Around 25 percent of people volunteered in 2015
- People ages 25-54 are most likely to volunteer
- Married people volunteer more (29.9 percent) than those who have never married (19.9 percent)
- Volunteers spent a median of 52 hours annually on volunteer activities, most (72 percent) with a single organization.
(Bureau of Labor Statistics study, 2015)