Several volunteer organizations are doing great work and could qualify as the best in Houston, TX. Given the current tough economic times, volunteers, and the time they give, have become more important than ever for everything from private charitable organizations to the city government itself. If you are thinking of becoming a volunteer in Houston, consider the following organizations. Your time will be greatly appreciated and the contribution you make to the many whose lives you affect will be priceless.
Created in 1910, the Urban League is focused on helping African Americans and other minorities improve their economic prospects. The Houston branch of the organization was established in 1965 and constantly seeks assistance from volunteers to help facilitate projects around the city. These projects include the mentoring of young professionals, entrepreneurs and even school children. Another project volunteers assist with is the ‘Take A Loved One To The Doctor Day’, which resulted in over 1,000 people getting free health care from physicians and optometrists. Prospective volunteers can commit their time by visiting one of the organization’s three locations or calling 713-393-8745 for more information.
The Volunteer Initiatives Program was created by the city of Houston in 2004 to increase the level of volunteerism in Houston. It aims to bring volunteers from across the city and connect them with services and groups that need their assistance. The program is administered by the mayor’s office and its website, www.http://www.houstonservice.org, allows individuals to search for volunteer opportunities for veterans and young people. There are also several opportunities in education, health and public safety. The website contains an easily navigated database and allows volunteers to search for specific organizations, including the 1940 Air Terminal Museum, Air Alliance Houston or Bayou City Performing Arts.
The Pup Squad Animal Rescue is a group that seeks to find stray dogs on the street and find homes for them before they are sent to the city’s animal control facility. The group’s founders previously volunteered with the animal control facility and feared that the city-run facility did not have the appropriate services to care for abandoned dogs. Being that Pup Squad Animal Rescue is a small organization, it needs volunteers to accomplish its goal of helping dogs. Volunteers are needed to serve as front table greeters, who welcome all visitors; adoption counselors, who aid families seeking to adopt a pet; and dog care specialists, who care for all the animals during their shift. Volunteers can sign up at the organization’s website, www.pupsquad.org.
Like its peers across the country, the Houston Food Bank collects donations of food that are shared, at no cost, with city residents who need to put food on their table. The organization also works to provide education about healthy foods and informs people about the social service programs available. Through its efforts, it feeds about 137,000 people each week and approximately 865,000 every year. To accomplish its goals, the food bank uses volunteers, who are known as Apple Corps team members. These individuals are only expected to give four hours a month and help with many duties. These include receiving food, performing administrative tasks, working with the Media and Public Relations team and serving as receptionists. The Houston Food Bank welcomes individual volunteers or groups of five or more. People who are required to volunteer due to a court decision, known as court appointed volunteers, can also contact the organization to give of their time. All volunteers can sign up via the Houston Food Bank website, www.houstonfoodbank.org.
The Houston YMCA provides a safe place for children and teenagers to learn and play. The organization focuses on youth development, social responsibility and healthy living. The once-small operation opened its doors in 1886 and was known as the Houston Young Men’s Christian Association. After 125 years, today’s YMCA has raised more than $5.6 million to apply in the community. It depends on thousands of volunteers to help with everything from coaching sports teams, teaching classes and fundraising. All individuals must contact the YMCA branch they want to work with when they are ready to volunteer.
With a shrinking budget, the Houston Zoo has turned to individuals to not only help with tasks but also use their volunteerism to broaden their knowledge about animals. Volunteers are trained on how to accomplish several tasks, be they administrative or involving direct contact with certain animals. To sign up, candidates must apply and some will then be interviewed. Those who qualify will pay a one-time $45 processing fee that also pays for their uniform. Volunteers must pass a background check and are expected to commit to four hours every month for a year.