Posted by ws1 on:
Often, during this time of year (especially when it's particularly cold outside), my thoughts turn to the folks who are less fortunate than the rest of us. It is always my intention to spend some time volunteering at a local soup kitchen, or shelter - but what often happens, unfortunately, is that the holidays sneak up on me and I wind up stressing and sprinting to get those last few gifts for family members and friends.
This year, we're not doing presents. The recession has definitely impacted the flow of gift-funds around the house, and none of us really need anything. So I thought this would be as good a year as any to volunteer.
I made a few calls this morning to the main groups in town that provide food and shelter.
The Santa Barbara Rescue Mission is having their annual feast today! Though we missed the opportunity to volunteer for this particular occasion, but the woman I spoke with assured me that they are always in need of volunteers during other times of the year. To get in touch with the Rescue Mission, call 805-966-1316.
The Transition House has individual and group volunteer opportunities year round as well. Though the volunteer coordinator is out for the rest of the week.
Casa Esperanza is another fabulous organization that will be taking volunteers both during the holidays and beyond. I spoke briefly with executive director Mike Foley about volunteer opportunities. When I asked if there had been an influx of volunteer help during the holidays, he said that though there has been an increase, there are always ways to help. He directed me to the volunteer coordinator Imelda Loza at 805-884-8481. Or visit them on the web at http://casa-esperanza.org/cm/Home.html
I also called 211 Santa Barbara County and spoke with Alex who mentioned several other organizations. United Way of Santa Barbara has an array of volunteer opportunities from Career Day Mentors, to Fundraising to Office Support. The Unity Shop is also a good place to look 805-965-0474.
Though not exactly a soup-kitchen type place...Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic seems like a fantastic group. They need volunteers to help record books for folks with disabilities, and can't function without the help of gracious folks willing to donate their time and voice. Call them at: 805-681-0531
Perhaps the nicest surprise resource mentioned by Alex was the Volunteer Santa Barbara County! which lets users search a database for specific kinds of volunteering opportunities.
Hopefully (pending a call back from Imelda) I will be volunteering with a few family members at Casa Esperanza on Christmas morning.
It is also worth mentioning that while these organizations are grateful for holiday support, we might be wise to remember that people are hungry, and hurting and in-need year-round. I for one, am going to try to make some kind of monthly habit out of it.