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How to Best Serve the Houston Community by Volunteering and Giving Back

Every holiday season, Houstonians look for opportunities to give back. They donate time, money and goods to charities across the city in an effort to spread a little holiday cheer. But just because the holiday season is over doesn’t mean you can’t continue to give back and serve your community. 

Throughout the year, Houston nonprofits and charities work hard to help those most in need across the city from homeless men and women to at-risk youth. Each nonprofit has plenty of needs and would love your help with volunteer opportunities in Houston

If you’re looking to better serve the Houston community and commit to volunteering in Houston in 2020, then you have plenty of great opportunities. Houston nonprofits need volunteers with compassion, empathy, dedication and a willingness to go the extra mile for the community.

This year, make volunteering in Houston your New Year’s resolution. Here’s how to get involved with volunteer opportunities in Houston and other great ways to serve your community.

Volunteer opportunities in Houston

Though we all have busy lives and plenty of personal commitments, it never hurts to carve out one afternoon a month to volunteer in Houston and help serve the community. No matter your interest, you can find an organization in the city that will value your hard work. 

Here are a few volunteer opportunities in Houston that could use your help right now.

Houston Area Women’s Shelter

The House Area Women’s Shelter provides much-needed assistance to women in the city who are trying to leave an abusive partner or escape sexual violence. Many who come to the shelter have very little and some even have children with them. You can help these women get back on their feet by volunteering with the Houston Area Women’s Shelter, which is always in need of great volunteers who want to make a difference.

The center offers volunteer opportunities in Houston for all skill levels. You can answer phones on the crisis hotline or help run child care activities. The center also does special projects and needs help with office and administrative work. 

Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaboration

Everyday, thousands of immigrants and refugees come to the United States looking for shelter, freedom and the opportunity to build their lives. Many settle in Houston, and the Houston immigration Legal Services Collaboration estimates that more than 1.6 million immigrants and 70,000 refugees live in Houston, with 63% of them being non-citizens. The group also estimates that about 500,000 Houston-area residents are undocumented.

Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaboration helps provide legal advice and services to immigrants and refugees who are trying to navigate the court system and get access to help and services to improve their quality of life. Even if you’re not a lawyer, you can still help out by working one-on-one with unaccompanied children or assisting immigrants who are trying to become U.S. citizens. The group will help connect you to other nonprofits in need of your help.

Houston Food Bank

Each day in Houston, thousands of people are hungry and unable to buy groceries. The Houston Food Bank and its soup kitchens help those in need get a warm, delicious meal and distributes food to those who need it most. 

The great thing about the Houston Food Bank is that it provides volunteer opportunities in Houston to both individuals and entire families. You can volunteer for a food service shift at a nearby soup kitchen or sign up your whole family and give back together. You can also work in food distribution and help give our food to those in need.

Child Advocates

Many children in Houston are suffering abuse in silence at their homes, but Child Advocates is working to break that cycle of abuse by training volunteers who provide voices for children in foster care. Volunteers work as advocates for the children, contacting foster parents, biological parents, therapists, lawyers and Child Protective Services caseworkers. The goal is to be able to give the courts a good recommendation about where a child should live after he or she has been removed from a home.

“Most importantly,” Child Advocates website says, “[volunteers] serve as a ‘constant’ person for the children to count on during this tumultuous time. Essentially, our volunteers do whatever it takes to ensure that the needs of the children are being met while they are in care.”

You can train to do this work and help a child in need, but this is a serious time commitment, but Child Advocates does have other done-in-a-day volunteer opportunities if you think you can’t make a big commitment.

Montrose Center

Teens and kids in the LGBTQ community are some of the most at-risk kids. They’re often more likely to be bullied at school and even at home, and they’re also at risk for suicide, addiction and other self-destructive behaviors. That’s where Montrose Center comes in. The LGBTQ center has been providing LGBTQ teens, kids and even adults with support, counseling, community and assistance for those who might be struggling with addiction, in need of an HIV test or escaping a domestic violence situation.

You can donate your time to Montrose Center by providing clerical work for the center or working on special projects as needed. You can also represent Montrose Center at health fairs and festivals and work on building projects, such as painting or landscaping.

Ronald McDonald House

Having a sick child can be one of the most devastating experiences for any family. All across the county, Ronald McDonald House helps provide housing to families with a child staying long-term at a hospital. In Houston, Ronald McDonald House works with patients and families at Texas Medical Center institutions, and the charity could always use some help from volunteers.

Houston volunteers and families can help other families at Holcombe House, which has 50 rooms, and Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, which has 14 rooms. Whether you want to help check in guests, prepare rooms or give tours, you can make an impact on these families.

Houston Pets Alive!

Animal overpopulation occurs when pet owners do not spay or neuter their pets — and then let them wander. Houston Pets Alive! is a no-kill shelter that works with the city to take in dogs and cats in need of a good home, and it provides medical care for those who need a little more TLC.

For animal lovers, Houston Pets Alive! has great opportunities. Volunteers can work with cats or dogs to help clean cages, play with the animals and do laundry. If cleaning out cages doesn’t sound fun, the nonprofit also runs a thrift store where the proceeds go to help take in more pets and provide medical care.

Other ways to give back in Houston

Time is just one of the money things you can donate. If volunteer opportunities in Houston don’t quite fit your life right now, here are other ways to give back and serve your community.

Be a good neighbor

It sounds simplistic, but you’d be surprised how being a better neighbor in your community can become a source of good. No matter they type of neighborhood you live in — close-knit and social or quiet and reserved — you can do your part to make your neighborhood welcoming to everyone and a more relaxed place to live.

If you can’t volunteer in Houston, you can still make your neighborhood a better place. Here are a few quick tips:

  • Welcome new neighbors: Introduce yourself to anyone who moves in on your block. 
  • Avoid making loud noises between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m.: Wait to mow your lawn until a reasonable time in the morning. Keep your music turned down. Be mindful of other homes that or close to yours. No one expects you to be a mouse, but be reasonable when it comes to noise.
  • Park cars in your driveway: When you have guests, ask them to park in your driveway so they don’t block others.
  • Keep your home well-maintained. Your home’s curb appeal matters to other neighbors too. Keep up with your lawn mowing, schedule regular power washings and take your trash cans out on trash day.
  • Discuss problems with neighbors: If a neighbor’s music is too loud, speak with them personally and respectfully. Never call the police unless you feel seriously threatened.
  • Spay or neuter pets if they roam outside: Cats especially like to be outside, but if your cat isn’t spayed or neutered, then you may cause animal overpopulation. Either keep your pet indoors or make sure they’re spayed or neutered.

Being a good neighbor sets a good example for your neighborhood. While not everyone may follow suit, you will still do your part to make your community a little better.

Commit to regular monetary donations

When the holiday season rolls around, you probably make a monetary donation to one of your favorite charities as you also look for volunteer opportunities in Houston. But let’s face it: The holidays are expensive. When all is said and done, you might not be able to give as much as you would like to your favorite charities.

The fact is though that these nonprofits and charities rely on donations all year long, and many of them struggle after the holidays when donations tend to dry up. People tend to give during the holidays and then wait until the next year to make a donation. As mentioned though, with so many other expenses and gifts to buy, it can be hard to set aside money for a donation.

Rather than donating just once a year, you can set up monthly donations to support your favorite nonprofit or charity. You don’t have to donate a lot each month — even just $25 goes a long way — and over the course of the year, you will have donated $300. You can set up monthly donations for $20 or even $10 a month if that’s more doable for you. All of it, of course, can be deducted from your taxes, so many sure you get a receipt for each transaction.

Donate your goods

Spring cleaning is just around the corner, and you probably have plenty of clothes, good and furniture that could have great second homes with a nonprofit in Houston. If volunteering opportunities in Houston don’t quite fit your schedule, see how some of your goods could do more for others in Houston.

  • Children’s clothes: Your kids grow like weeds, and before long, they’ve grown out of their pants and shifts. Rather than donating the clothes to Goodwill, drop them off at a women’s shelter or other nonprofit that helps parents and children. The clothes will go directly to those that need them the most.
  • Furniture and household goods: All over Houston, there are families trying to get back on their feet and set themselves up in new apartments. Your gently used furniture and household appliances could go a long way to help fix up their houses and make them feel more like homes. Check out local charities that help decorate homes for low-income families. Some will even come and pick up your furniture.
  • Professional clothes: Don’t toss out your old suits and dresses. Nonprofits in Houston will gladly take gently worn professional outfits, purses, shoes and accessories and give them to low-income woman who are looking to get back on their feet and into a professional career. The clothing can help build their confidence and provide a professional polish for a job interview.
  • Books, games and toys: Why leave unused toys and books sitting in your home? While you’re dropping off children’s clothes, why not take some toys and books as well?

No matter how you give back in your community, remember that doing your part can make a big impact. As it’s been said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Don’t let volunteering in Houston become something you do only around the holiday season. It should be something you commit to all year round.

Share with us: Which of these volunteer opportunities in Houston will you be participating in? Tell us more in the comments.

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