After the year we've had, you might be eager to reconnect with the community and meet new people.
And there's no better way to do both — while also giving back and supporting a worthy cause— than volunteering with one of the many Tucson organizations that rely on volunteers to keep going.
"Southern Arizona really has a culture of volunteerism," says Jessica Dennes, communications chair for the Southern Arizona Volunteer Management Association. "There are are lot of people ready and willing to give back and there are so many places to do that."
And the work of volunteers is incredibly important to helping non-profit organizations not only with direct service to their clients, but also with administrative support.
"Many groups rely on volunteers to function operationally. Without volunteers running the reception desk or serving their actual clients, many organizations in the area wouldn't be able to run," Dennes says.
Over the course of the year non-profits have adapted to continue to serve the community while also keeping volunteers safe by creating virtual opportunities and adopting strict COVID-19 protocols like mask wearing, social distancing and setting up outdoor work spaces, Dennes says.
While you might be itching to get involved and give back to the community, there are are few things to keep in mind before jumping into an opportunity.
Dennes suggests taking some time to think about what you're interested in, who you want to serve or work with and what kind of work you want to do and look for opportunities that align with what you're looking for.
Also, make sure you take into consideration whether you can commit to a long-term opportunity or if you're just looking for a one-time or more flexible opportunity.
To help with your search here are five places to check out that are currently recruiting new volunteers.
COVID-19 Vaccination Sites
Volunteers continue to be in demand to help staff the various COVID-19 vaccination sites across the city.
You'll help out with things that that help keep the sites running smoothly including greeting, post-vaccine operation, supply running, registration and traffic control. No medical experience is necessary.
To volunteer at the PODs, or points of distribution, and mobile clinics run by Pima County you first have to register on online through the Arizona Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals (AZ-ESAR-VHP), and then you can create a profile on the county's volunteer hub website to sign up for shifts.
For the University of Arizona POD, you can fill out the volunteer application online here and within a few days you'll receive an email with instructions about signing up for shifts.
MHC Healthcare in Marana also has volunteer opportunities at its vaccination clinics through the end of May. Sign up online here.
Interfaith Community Services
It takes a small army of volunteers each year to help the non-profit Interfaith Community Services serve its thousands of clients through two food banks and mobile food distribution programs, workforce development training programs and programs for seniors.
So far in fiscal year 2021, more than 1,600 volunteers have volunteered with the organization.
"They are at the heart of what we do. .. we could never do what we do without volunteers" says Tori Carlson, volunteer resources manager for ICS.
There are several volunteer opportunities with the organization including helping with food distribution, delivering meals to seniors, driving seniors to doctors appointments, vaccine appointments or to the grocery store or helping seniors with minor yard work or home repairs.
ICS hosts monthly virtual volunteer orientations where you can learn all about the current opportunities and what they entail. As summer approaches and many of the organization's regular volunteers take time off or return home, there will be an increased need for volunteers to help with its transportation services. The organization is also working to launch a virtual program to provide social support for seniors and will soon start recruiting people in the community who want to lead virtual classes on mindfulness, yoga, music, or other topics as part of the service.
For those looking to get an immediate taste of volunteering for ICS there are always opportunities available to help at the organization's two food banks, one on the northwest side of town and one on the east side. Signing up for those can be done online here.
The minimum age to volunteer at ICS is 18 years old, but in some cases the organization does accept younger teens if they are accompanied by their parents. Contact Tori Carlson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 520-526-9308 to learn more.
Tucson Interfaith HIV/AIDS Network
While much of Tucson Interfaith HIV/AIDS Network's direct service volunteer opportunities have been placed on hold amid the pandemic, the organization has several virtual volunteer positions it's currently recruiting for.
Much of the volunteer positions involve helping support the organization's operations, including serving on its marketing committee, grants team and helping with graphic design and newsletter needs.
For families, groups or individuals looking for volunteer projects to do from home, TIHAN has an ongoing need for volunteers to decorate bags used to distribute care packages to people living with HIV/AIDS. TIHAN fills the packages with personal care items, but volunteers are asked to decorate paper bags with uplifting messages and designs or artwork to add a personal touch to the package. Find guidelines and more information about decorating care packages here.
Fore more information about volunteering with TIHAN visit the organization's website.
Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona
The Community Food Bank has seen an increased demand for emergency food boxes since the pandemic started and is always looking for volunteers to help meet the need at its drive-thru food distribution.
Volunteers need to be at least 16 years old, should be comfortable standing outside for a 4-hour shift, and be able to lift boxes and cases of food into cars. The drive-thru distribution happens three times a week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 7:30-11:30 a.m. at 3003 S. Country Club Road.
To sign up to volunteer email email@example.com.
There are two local volunteer databases that local organizations frequently use to post new volunteer opportunities so you can get a sense of the many kinds of non-profits in our community and what their needs are.
The website volunteermatch.org allows you to search by location, skills, type (virtual vs. in-person), cause areas and age group.
The United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona also has a database called Golden, where you can search by distance and your availability.