No skill is too small to help others. There is probably a huge reserve of hidden talents in all of us, waiting to be tapped and channelized for a worthy cause. Government authorities and NGOs try their utmost to help those in need. But what can women of 40+ do to make our society a better place to live?
Helping others to have a better life can be a very fulfilling experience. It gives the helper a sense of well-being, a feeling of doing something nice for others. That’s why volunteer services improve self esteem and confidence.
Here are a few ideas…
Assisting senior citizens
Senior citizens are going through a very difficult phase in life. They are not so physically active nor are they confident enough to do even the small routine tasks on their own. Many times they are in old age homes and just want someone to chat with. Assisting senior citizens to use computers, going shopping with/for them, meeting them occasionally for a long chat, reading to them, playing chess, scrabble, bridge, rummy, etc are some of the activities. Just one hour of free time is all that’s needed.
Mentoring a child would involve a little more time and a small expense as compared to seniors. You can mentor a child’s school education till he/she is able to earn a living. You can either teach the child or pay for tuitions. The aim here is to hone the existing talents of the child for financial independence. This activity would also include (in most cases) cost of basic necessities like food and clothing till they reach the age of 18 years.
What happens to the leftover food after a party, marriage, christening, and other social events? Are you aware that there are food banks in most major cities and towns across the globe? If you Google search you will find the nearest community volunteer services in your city. Just ring them up once the party is over and their representatives will collect the leftover food to distribute among the poor while it is still edible. In a similar way there are NGOs collecting old clothes, blankets, woollen garments, footwear, etc for the poor. You can register as a volunteer with the NGO as a collection point.
Working with animal shelters
If you are fond of animals lending a hand at an animal rescue shelter can be a pleasure. Shelters are notoriously short-handed and every offer of help is welcome. Look around for the nearest shelter and offer your help at least on weekends. The benefit is threefold – you experience the joy of assisting helpless/wounded animals, the shelter get additional help at no cost, and the animals have more people looking after them.
Free vocational training
Everyone is not cut out for a formal education. The challenge is in identifying the latent talent in a destitute child and converting it into a small business. For example, you can teach a child to make soft toys, gift wrapping, painted stationery, baskets, etc. These can then be sold for cash so that the child learns to earn through art and craft. Become a vocational training volunteer and help the child to attain dignity in life.
Many NGOs need volunteers for counselling the youth in situations like school dropouts, substance abuse, violent behaviour, emotional distress, depression, children with special needs, etc. You can conduct activity-based workshops for positivity, so that their minds are diverted from the cause of their distress. You can organize activities like sports, dance, music, dramatics, etc which help to improve the mood and encourage positive thinking.
This does not mean you need medical knowledge. Medical volunteering involves two types of activities:
- Spending time with and counselling terminally ill cancer patients,
- Activities like administration and computing, public relations, fund raising, organization of awareness drives, etc.
One such organization that has done really good work in the field of cancer treatment and support is the non-profit organization Max Foundation.
There is a phase in everyone’s life when you are fed up with the sameness of the office-home routine. When the mind becomes restless to do more, that’s the time to bring forth your hidden talent and use it for a social cause through volunteer services.