Making an Impact: A Gainesville Volunteer Guide
Whether it be social endeavors, food and drink indulgences, academic accomplishments or professional success, we are constantly searching for avenues to happiness and fulfillment. Yet one key component that is often overlooked for those with a busy schedule is the selfless and rewarding act of serving others.
Often times life gets in the way as we try to balance full-time school or work along with club affiliations, fitness goals, a social life and if time allows, an occasional weekend trip.
While most of us know that volunteering our time is important and a key tenant to a full life, it can be difficult not only prioritize volunteering but to also ensure that you are making the most impact with a limited amount of free time.
Volunteering my time has brought me such great personal fulfillment yet taking the first step can be somewhat intimidating and overwhelming so we broke down a few opportunities in our Gainesville volunteer guide that make a large direct impact in the community to get you started.
“There are so many nations represented just here in Gainesville. We can reach nations right here. Bridges does that,” said Zachary Martinez, student-staff volunteer for Bridges at UF.
Bridges is an on-campus organization that aims to bridge the gap between international students and American culture. It’s a way to connect them with internationals from other cultures, with American students and to make them feel welcome and cared about while they’re here. Bridges does this through special events, parties, hangouts and through celebrating American holidays. They also provide spiritual resources to students.
If this sounds more like your cup of tea, you can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mentor UF is an opportunity that allows UF students to better the lives of “at risk” elementary, middle school and high school aged students through a unique mentoring relationship. Students and mentors meet weekly to work on academics or just hang out. There are four distinct mentoring groups so you can choose where your interest lies:
– One-on-One Elementary: 30 minutes a week for 1 year
– Elementary Group: 2 hours a week for one semester
– Middle School One-on-One: 1 hour a week for one semester
– High School Group: 1 hour a week for one semester
Spring 2017 applications are open and available here.
The Alachua County Crisis Center offers a 24 hour suicide intervention and counseling hotline for those in distress. The center responded to over 60,000 calls in 2004. Volunteers and staff put in a total of 41,700 hours of work to fully operate the programs, according to the Crisis Center website. Volunteers are trained to respond to phone calls in an empathetic and compassionate manner and to be sufficiently knowledgeable of the referral information and references utilized by the Center.
Anyone interested can apply online here.
Westside Samaritans Clinic provides free medical, mental and dental health services to qualifying patients without insurance. Services are provided on the first and third Sunday of each month from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Greater Faith Church. The clinic is completely dependent upon volunteers. There are various positions such as administration and IT, so not all positions involve medical experience.
Anyone interested in getting involved can contact Brenda Belote at (352) 333-7700 x134.
Noah’s Endeavor is a non-profit organization that allows volunteers to play and interact with mentally and physically handicapped children and young adults through a variety of activities. Whether you’re interested in swimming, basketball bowling or crafts, there is an opportunity to get involved. The Endeavor also hosts sports leagues.
Anyone interested can check out the calendar on the website and show up to volunteer at any event, as long as they have a volunteer application in hand, which can be downloaded here.
There are numerous ways to get involved here in Gainesville. Volunteer where your heart lies. Carving even just an hour out of your week to lend a helping hand can truly turn your day-to-day life around in immeasurable ways.
A new perspective on life and sense of meaning is gained through unique experiences like these. If the intangible benefits aren’t convincing enough, the killer resume building, community connections and future employment opportunities will make your efforts well worth it.