Doing acts of service is a great way to get connected to your local community and build relationships. If you’re looking for volunteer opportunities for people with disabilities, here are several great options and reasons why you should help people with disabilities serve their communities.
Why People with Intellectual and Developmental Delays (IDD) Should Volunteer:
Many people believe that individuals with disabilities are the ones who need service performed for them, but the reality is that they’re more than capable of serving others. Serving can help individuals with IDD to feel connected to other members of their community, feel like they have a purpose, and help them to develop skills that could lead to future employment opportunities.
There are some barriers for people with IDDs who might want to serve. These barriers can look like:
- Service locations not being accessible
- Volunteer coordinators not knowing how to work with disabilities
- Having transportation to or from volunteering
How Caregivers Can Help People with IDD Volunteer:
If you’re a Giv.care caregiver, you can make a plan to volunteer and get out in the community with the person receiving care. Find a service opportunity you think the two of you would enjoy and perform the service together. Caregivers can help the volunteer coordinators understand the needs of the person with disabilities, ensure the location is accessible for the individual, and give them a ride to their volunteer shifts. Caregivers have an amazing ability to breakdown any barriers to service that might exist. After a few shifts, the person receiving care might be able to perform the service independently and may not need the caregiver with them the entire time.
Volunteer Opportunities for People with Disabilities:
Here are several opportunities for service for people with disabilities. There are so many different ways to serve and get connected to the local community. Find the service opportunity that the person you care for would enjoy the most and help to make it a reality for them.
Many people with disabilities love animals and have a very special connection with them. Look around at your local animal shelters to see if they’re currently accepting volunteers. They might need people to help feed the animals, clean kennels, take the dogs on walks, and so much more. This could even lead to them being able to get a job working at a pet store, veterinarian office, or a pet boarding facility.
Food pantries are always in need of volunteers to help sort and bag groceries. This definitely involves some manual labor and heavy lifting. Make sure the individual wanting to serve can handle the physical demands of this type of work. There are many food pantries across the state of Utah (and nationwide!).
Many churches have food pantries that they open to members of the community who need food. See if your local church has a food pantry and if they’re looking for help. This could be a great way to volunteer with a community of people who already know the individual with a disability.
If there isn’t a church near you with a food pantry, simply Google search food pantries closest to you to find one accepting volunteers.
Hospitals and nursing homes are always looking for volunteers! Some jobs you might be able to do while volunteering include:
- Cleaning patient rooms
- Stocking medical supplies
- Door greeting at an entrance
- Delivering gifts to patients rooms
- Cuddling babies in the NICU
If these sounds like things that might interest the individual receiving care, contact your local hospital to see what opportunities might be available in your area.
Serving Meals at Homeless Shelters:
Homeless shelters run primarily on the goodwill and service of other volunteers. The work is fairly easy too. Usually there are volunteers that help heat and prepare the food for each meal. Other volunteers help to serve the food which is a fairly easy job but also lets the individual with disabilities interact with a lot of people if that’s something they enjoy. They also need help cleaning up after the meals. This can look like throwing away plates, wiping down tables, and cleaning the floors.
Just Serve is a website that curates service opportunities all across the United States. Simply type in your zip code and a bunch of organizations that are looking for volunteers for specific jobs will pop-up. This gives you an opportunity to see a lot of different options at one time and pick something that will work well for the person receiving care.
Some of the available service opportunities through Just Serve are:
- Assembling hygiene kits for refugees
- Helping with parking or cleaning up after the rodeo
- Packing backpacks with school supplies
- Writing letters of encouragement to other students
- Managing food drives at a baseball game
There are so many fun and different activities, and you could pick something new to try every week or each month.
Serving is a great way to meet new people, feel connected to your local community, give back, and learn so many new skills. Make sure when you’re looking for service opportunities for someone with a disability that you choose something that plays to their skills. You want volunteering to be a positive experience for them so that they’ll want to keep doing it in the future.