Looking for a way to get out and meet new people? Want to know what you can do to make a difference in Cincinnati? Volunteering is an excellent way to do both!
There are plenty of volunteer opportunities available to Cincinnati seniors. Let's review some of the local organizations and events that rely on your volunteerism to thrive.
Deupree Meals On Wheels
You can help home-bound seniors remain independent and safe in their homes by becoming a Deupree Meals On Wheels delivery volunteer who brings them a nutritious lunch. Routes are available throughout Greater Cincinnati and take only one or two hours, one day a week Tuesday through Friday.
Using your own car, you’ll pick up meals at the Deupree House between 10:30-10:45 a.m. With the same route every week, you’ll get to know the residents well. Meals On Wheels provides crucial contact with seniors to supplement family support, and you’ll find it rewarding as well.
Ever considered becoming a youth mentor? Many vulnerable kids could use gentle guidance from adults who can provide them perspective or who can be a sounding board for the daily challenges they face. Many of those youths aren't troubled or in trouble, but they need a kind voice to help them stay that way.
Several Tristate organizations host youth mentoring programs, including the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative, the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati and Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Some local school districts also work directly with accredited mentoring programs, so check with your local district to see what opportunities might be available to you.
Animal Rescues and Shelters
Do you love dogs, cats and other furry or feathered friends? Don't have room at home for a pet, but still love to be around animals? Then volunteering with a Tristate animal rescue or animal shelter might be the purr-fect opportunity for you.
Many local shelters accept and train volunteers, including Ohio Alleycat Resource (OAR), which operates a large, no-kill feline adoption center and reduced-cost spay/neuter clinic in Madisonville. The organization always needs shelter volunteers to help clean pens, feed the residents and provide potential adoptees with necessary human socialization skills (read: you get to spend time playing with kitties and giving them love and affection!).
In addition to housing and finding permanent homes for hard-luck cats and kittens, OAR also trains willing volunteers for its trap-neuter-return program, which seeks to reduce the negative environmental impact of feral cat populations by humanely preventing them from breeding.
The League for Animal Welfare is also on the lookout for volunteers at its no-kill adoption facility for dogs and cats or for willing pet fosters. The league needs dog walkers, cat socializers, front desk volunteers and people who can help produce its yearly Wine & Whiskers fundraiser.
And there are plenty of other organizations that need your help, including the SPCA, county animal shelters and small rescue-foster organizations like Recycled Doggies, so bring up Google and search away. You'll find many groups looking for senior volunteers just like you!
It's not always fun. Sometimes it can be heartbreaking. But volunteering for a healthcare organization, hospital or local advocacy group is always rewarding. And there's much to do.
For example, if you have a driver's license and a clean driving record, you could become a volunteer driver for the American Cancer Society's Road to Recovery program, which provides rides to doctor appointments for local cancer patients. Drivers are especially needed right now in Warren and Butler Counties.
Volunteers are needed at Cincinnati Shriners Hospital for Children, at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and at any of the adult acute care hospitals in the region, including the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
Community Gardening and Beautification
Have a green thumb? Love to get out in the sun and get fresh air? Have you considered working a community garden plot or serving on a beautification committee this summer?
For example, on the west side of town, the Westwood Civic Association is always looking for volunteers to help with gardening and upkeep around its historic neighborhood hall grounds. Over on the east side, the Loveland Beautification Committee needs volunteers to help plant and maintain the city's decorative flower boxes and landscaping. And there are many similar small-town clean-up projects all over the area.
Looking for a larger effort to join? How about volunteering for the Great American Cleanup, managed locally by Keep Cincinnati Beautiful?
Or, remove litter from a portion of the banks of the Ohio, its tributary rivers and streams along with other volunteers from River Sweep 2016 (a project of the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission). Volunteers are needed all along the courses of the Ohio River, the Little Miami, Great Miami and Whitewater rivers and every stream and creek — there's plenty of ground to cover, so the more people who get involved, the better!
You could also try your hand at growing vegetables, fruits or flowers in a community garden plot. The Civic Garden Center in Corryville could use volunteer growers and environmental stewards, as could any of the community plots on this list.
These are just a few ideas. There's something out there that will feed your passion for service.
As you can see, there’s no shortage of volunteer opportunities for Cincinnati seniors. If anything here strikes your fancy, click on a link and reach out. Or, search online for volunteer opportunities that dovetail with your interests and hobbies.
Rest assured, you'll find something. This spring and summer, get out and about by engaging in some good, old-fashioned volunteerism. Your community needs you.