Bleak news stories, political polarization, the pandemic: no wonder so many of us have occasionally felt isolated and powerless the past couple of years.
But there’s a solution: giving back. Whether you volunteer at a seniors’ centre or just become a regular blood donor, contributing to the larger community not only help others but lets you step away from your own worries and make life-affirming connections with people outside your usual circle. In other words, everyone wins.
What’s more, there’s a volunteer role for virtually anyone regardless of whether you want to be in the front lines or helping out in an office.
How can you give back and help build the strong, supportive communities we all need? Start by checking out these organizations.
Shelter Movers Ottawa Operating in Ottawa since 2017, Shelter Movers provides no-charge moving and storage services to women and children experiencing abuse. Moving, driving, helping with finance or communication, and more: if you can do it, Shelter Movers needs you.
Ottawa Humane Society Our furry friends need help too, and if you love animals you already know how rewarding it is to connect with them and with other animal lovers. Volunteer needs change at the Humane Society and can range from dog walking and encouraging basic obedience training to delivering animals to partner locations across the city.
100 Men Who Care Ottawa and 100 Women Who Care Ottawa. Between them, these two organizations of business and other people have raised over half a million dollars for small, local charities that do critical work but don’t have the sophisticated fundraising capacity of large charities. Both the groups are friendly and informal, always open to new members, and a great way to both socialize and network.
Operation Come Home Interested in helping at-risk and homeless youth to make positive changes in their lives? Young people are the future of our community, and offering them support as they work through troubled times and take advantage of educational and training opportunities can have a massive impact on all us. Previously known as Operation Go Home, the organization has been operating locally for over 50 years.
Shepherds of Good Hope A mainstay of Ottawa’s support scene, Shepherds of Good Hope’s eight locations support deserving members of our community with supportive housing, food services and drop-in facilities. Volunteers help in the Shepherds’ soup kitchens, gardens and administrative operations.
Volunteer Ottawa This is a great site for discovering more volunteer opportunities across Ottawa, from visiting and tutoring to administrative support and sports activities. The site includes a handy Frequently Asked Questions section about volunteering.
More ways to give back
Join a community garden. Sure, you get to eat fresh vegetables but you can also share ideas and work with others, and that means you’re contributing to the important work of community building.
Give your gently used clothing, furniture and household items a second life by donating them to worthy charities. Learn more here.
Become part of a neighbourhood Facebook group so you know about park cleanups, funding drives and other opportunities to give back.
Be an organ donor. Donating your organs and tissues after you die can save up to 8 lives and improve up to 75 more. Wouldn’t you want someone to do that for someone you love? Find out how here.
Hand over that toonie. If you can afford it, get in the habit of donating a small amount every time you’re invited to do so at a grocery store or other local funding drive. You won’t miss the occasional toonie and it feels good to help others.