Here are five sites to help you find the perfect volunteer opportunities:

A product of AARP, Create the Good works to connect willing volunteers to opportunities with flexible time commitments and varying degrees of need. One unique feature of this site is the “Do-It-Yourself Project Guidelines” page, which empowers individuals to create changes in their own communities through articles like “Easy Ways to Help Others Go Green” or “How to Hold A Used Book Sale.” Search for volunteer opportunities by keyword, zip code or distance from your home.

With nearly 10 million volunteer connections since their beginnings in 1998, VolunteerMatch has a great system for pairing you with a cause that you care about, with operations in most major cities in the United States. They also host webinars for both nonprofits and volunteers eager to learn more about the world of volunteering and community engagement.

Geared specifically towards teenagers looking to do some good in their communities, this site is a great resource for 12- to 18-year-olds to engage in service. Volunteen Nation believes “volunteering can cultivate the empathy necessary to address social injustices and heal divisions within communities.”

A product of Points of Light and Hands On Network, this database serves to help individuals, groups and corporations find meaningful and mutually beneficial volunteer opportunities. HandsonNetwork Affiliate Action Centers serve particularly when natural disasters strike to help mobilize individuals in effective ways.

5. is a great resource for finding volunteer opportunities as well as internships, jobs and events. Search by keyword, city or passion in this easy-to-use interface. Idealist “helps people move from intention to action” all over the world, with both national and global opportunities.

Liz Vestal

Sources: Create the Good, Volunteer Match, Volunteennation, Hands On Network, Idealist
Photo: Create the Good

Within Uganda, in a town called Kampala, there is a slum by the name of Kisenyi. There are many languages spoken in this region, and it is a rough place to live. There is poverty abound, and hunger in many of the people. There are piles of garbage and sewage flowing around the houses. The houses are small, wooden shacks that are inhabited by the families of Kisenyi. If a foreigner visited Kisenyi, they would be begged by the children to give them money in order to get sugarcane so they can have lunch. There are many businesses, but the businesses are hard to keep going. The children do whatever drugs they can get their hands on. Despite this, some of the children have large dreams. Indeed, there is a lot of hope in the slums, and Ugandan teen, named Eunice Namugerwa, has provided the inhabitants with even more hope. Poverty may be a thing of the past in Kisenyi in some years, due to people like Eunice.

Eunice decided to start a chicken farm in Kisenyi, out of necessity, and this led to her speaking at TEDx Kampala, which is part of the larger TED Talks. TED has the mission, “ideas worth spreading.” Many experts, or even inspiring people, are invited to talk at TED in order to have a large audience for their brilliant stories or ideas. The idea of TED is to create a dialogue among movers and shakers of the world, to fight issues like poverty, disease, and hunger. This can lead to change on a local level, through those who experience the TED talks. TEDx Kampala was an independently organized TED event, but it was a high honor for Eunice to be invited to tell her story. It occurred on March 10th, 2012. It followed TED’s idea of “Technology, Entertainment, Design,” but focused primarily, of course, on social issues.

In August 2012, Eunice started her chicken farm in the Kisenyi slum in order to support her family and raise some income. The other options she considered were a fashion boutique and a “piggery.” Although she was only 18, little did she know she would soon inspire others and spread her idea into the future. In 2004, her father died of HIV, and in 2012, her mother was suffering too much to work, so Eunice was forced to try to make income for her family. Eunice commented on the issues in Kisenyi, which includes disease, the environment, and child abuse. She did not want to have to beg for money, so she turned to the idea of a chicken farm.

A primary school teacher named Tiarna Elmer donated about $576 so Eunice could start her farm. Eunice started the farm and began selling the eggs. The business grew quickly, and today, Eunice has 200 chickens on her farm. In addition to the farm, they have also started a DVD shop. Soon, Eunice will be earning about $385 a month or more, which is an incredible amount in the Kisenyi slums. Although it seemed like a far-fetched idea at first, with a little starter capital, Eunice now has a budding business and can inspire others with her entrepreneurial spirit. She gives hope to others stuck in poverty to start their own businesses, and hopefully, she also inspires nonprofit charities to donate money for start-up businesses, because they will help lift those in the slums out of poverty.

– Corina Balsamo

Sources: IPS News, All Africa, TED
Photo: RNW