New Orleans abounds with opportunities for lending a helping hand. Community volunteerism is a great way to develop a deeper knowledge about your region and to do your part in making it a better place. Volunteering also introduces you to new friends while you help others. Here are several organizations that do a good job reaching out to the community and making a difference.
Habitat for Humanity
2900 Elysian Fields Ave.
Providing homes for people who need them is a proven way to make a community thrive. Volunteers build homes for families from start to finish, from foundation to walls, to painting and installing flooring, to putting on roofs. Projects vary from participating in the construction of a new home to installing a wheelchair ramp for the elderly or handicapped, to other home improvements. Opportunities are also available in the ReStore retail outlet selling donated goods, or working with the urban gardens project, the Clean House Team and others.
Watch the Wild
If you're pressed for time but love nature and the wild environment around our area, then Watch the Wild may be for you. A program sponsored by Nature Abounds, Watch the Wild asks volunteers to observe and then report on trees and other plants, the weather patterns in an area, and wildlife activity. Volunteer observations help Nature Abounds understand the changes in our eco-system, and how we may need to adapt in the future. It's as simple as choosing a route or location to observe over a period of time, keeping a record of developments and reporting on what you find.
Volunteers of America
4152 Canal St.
Volunteers of America provides opportunities for volunteers to help communities in need across the country. Among those that VOA helps: children and youth, the elderly, veterans, families, offenders, the homeless, the disabled and persons who suffer from mental illness and substance abuse. A variety of jobs are available, including helping to raise farm-to-school fruits and vegetables, lending a hand in the administrative offices, or organizing a collection drive.
Unity of Greater New Orleans
2475 Canal St., Suite 300
Homelessness is still a challenging issue in New Orleans, even 10 years after Hurricane Katrina, with some individuals still living in hurricane-ravaged buildings. Unity of Greater New Orleans offers a number of volunteer opportunities to help the homeless, including fundraising, providing clerical help, making inventory of and assorting donated goods, making up kits with bedding and toiletries, donating handyman skills, facilitating a fitness group and many more.
HandsOn New Orleans
2515 Canal St.
The mission of HandsOn New Orleans is to connect volunteers with the right service opportunity. Programs are devoted to community revitalization, service projects and disaster management. The latter program helps educate the community about disaster preparedness and recovery.
There's a whole world of community service projects in New Orleans ready to welcome volunteers. Give one or more of these organizations a call and find out which is right for you.