16 years ago when I moved to St. Louis, the Residence Life Office where I worked also housed the Volunteer Programs Office for the University. Wanting to make a good first impression and because I wanted to meet some imagesnew folks, I went in to see where some local needs might be. Since I didn’t have a predictable schedule and didn’t want to over commit, I requested something that was less than 5 hours/month. Their first suggestion was to be a reader/helper for an elderly woman who was visually impaired and I agreed to give it a shot.  Mrs. Kelley and I met a week later and we’ve been together ever since. We read her mail, pay bills, do taxes, run occasional errands or enjoy a quick meal out.

 There are a million places and ways to volunteer but many times people don’t know where to start. Volunteer Match is one of the best comprehensive sites that can connect you locally and in an area of your interest. Enter your ZIP code, city or state and keywords describing the opportunity you’re looking for or you can enter the skills you have or would like to develop.  Idealist.org and Kids Care are good places if you have kids or teens that want to volunteer.

I’ll admit that there are days that I groan when Mrs. Kelley calls as I’ve got a thousand other competing priorites but I’ll always find a way to fit her into my day/week. Who can say no to a woman who gave me a beautiful black shawl for Christmas (she loves to listen to QVC) so I’d have something to wear if my husband ever wanted to take me dancing?