Community service is one of the cornerstones of civic work. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people from American communities volunteer in order to make a difference in the lives of many who are in need. There are many community service centers in the urban areas that regularly need a lot of volunteers to ensure that their worthwhile causes are followed through with the right amount of dedication and effort.
There are many volunteer organizations to choose from. Most have community programs that are meant to address the needs of a specific marginalized sector of society. There are some that target those with medical needs. The most popular of these organizations is the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross forms community groups to offer assistance to areas and people who have been recently struck by a calamity such as earthquakes, hurricanes or tornadoes. The American Red Cross also extends assistance outside US borders to forward good will and provide much needed relief to those who are in need. Anyone can volunteer to work with the Red Cross. Tasks include anything from putting together relief goods, transport and even medical concerns.
Other organizations that one for consider for community assistance programs include the YMCA. The Young Men’s Christian Association (also with a women’s chapter, the YWCA) is well known for after-school programs that are meant to keep the youth busy with productive activities, instead of having them fall victim to the draw of vices and other exploits that may not be in their best interests. The YMCA is very active in sports programs that are meant to keep people in the community fit and maintain a very proactive approach to health, fitness and overall wellness.
The Big Brother and Big Sister programs also pair young adults with teenage kids for mentorship and general companionship on a weekly basis. This is popular in communities where there is a high rate of divorce and broken families. Since the single parent is often working hard to make ends meet, it’s very important to have other people who can help out in keep the minors straight in terms of their priorities, and to serve as role models.
Apart from the above-mentioned organizations, established academic institutions like colleges and universities usually have their own community service offices, which aim to encourage students to volunteer for aid work. Most churches and religious groups in any city or town would also have small groups that focus on community service. The important thing to consider in these cases is to determine the cause of the organization, and the way by which they try to achieve their goals. If these are in line with your own principles, then it makes sense to contribute, whether financially, or as a volunteer.
Most of these groups have a national organization, but have chapters and branches in virtually any area in the United States. Joining any of these as a volunteer would surely help bolster the spirit of camaraderie and community among both helpers and the beneficiaries of assistance. Participating in community service might also be a good stepping stone to a career in development work, both locally and internationally.