There are as many places to volunteer in Albuquerque as there are beautiful sunsets! The sky is the limit when it comes to where you want to spend your free time to make your corner of the world just a little bit better! But, how to pick?
First, think of what is important to you. Do you think children are the future and want to improve a child's life? Do you love animals, cats, dogs, or horses? Are you passionate about health care?
Second, think of what you want to get out of volunteering. Do you want to meet people? Get outdoors? Or just feel like you're contributing to your community?
After answering these questions, find some non-profits that fit your criteria. Do some research, either through their websites, phone or in person. Ask questions about what volunteers typically do for them, how many hours they require and if you need any training. If it seems like a fit for you, go ahead and apply or attend a volunteer training. Then all you have to do is enjoy your volunteer experience and the warm fuzzies that go with the selfless devotion to your community!
The following are just a few of the incredible non-profits in the Albuquerque area who need your help! They're grouped by type of organization with notes about the benefits you can get by volunteering with them.
Working with Kids:
Most cities have a chapter of Big Brothers, Big Sisters and Albuquerque is no exception. If you want to mentor a child; fostering a real relationship and influencing one child at a time, this is the place for you. After you apply, they match you with a child who most benefits from your experiences and interests. One of the added benefits: you can go see all those children's movies or have paintball fights without feeling like a weirdo! http://www.bbbs.org
Helping a child learn to read can be one of the most rewarding things you ever do with your life. The NM Coalition for Literacy can connect you to a number of projects and schools to help you find your perfect literacy match! http://www.nmcl.org/guide.htm
Volunteering at local museums to run children's groups can be a great way to fill that inner-teaching need! Visit Explora or the Museum of Natural History. The National Hispanic Cultural Center has amazing exhibits and programs that need volunteers too!
Working with Animals:
Cats and Dogs: There are multiple animal shelters in Albuquerque that are no-kill shelters and rely on volunteers and donations to make a difference in the stray cat and dog populations in Albuquerque. They need help in the shelters themselves and out in the community during their adopt-a-thons. Watermelon Ranch, the Humane Association and NM Animal Friends are just a few of the non-profits doing incredible work! Don't want to volunteer your time at the shelters themselves? Adopt a pet or foster a homeless cat or dog!
Horses: One of the best places to volunteer and work with horses is the Walkin N Circles Ranch in Edgewood (about 30 minutes from Albuquerque). This is a non-profit horse rescue ranch that houses about 30 horses that are rescued from all over NM! They have a great training program for volunteers and really let you do what you do best on the ranch! They also have a thrift store that needs volunteers as well as fund raising events throughout the year. This is a great place for parents to volunteer with their children, get exercise and be in the great outdoors! www.wncr.org
Working with the Homeless:
One of the best places to volunteer with the homeless populations in Albuquerque is with Healthcare for the Homeless. They have multiple programs, you're certain to find one you love! Like ArtStreet, where homeless families can create art to help lessen the stresses of living on the street. There is also Joy Junction, Albuquerque Rescue Mission, All Faiths Center, Albuquerque Opportunity Center, Barrett House and Cuidando los Ninos - to name just a few! There are shelters specific to youth too, New Day Inc and Amistad.
Working towards Peace:
The Albuquerque Peace and Justice Center has many programs educating our community about Peace and Justice. Contact them to find out where they need volunteers! http://abqpeaceandjustice.org/
Peacecraft is a store and non-profit that buys only fair trade and socially conscious products from communities around the world and sells them in Albuquerque in the heart of downtown. They operate almost solely on volunteer labor. This is a great place to spend an afternoon, get retail experience and shop while contributing to communities around the world. An added benefit: the volunteer discount! http://peacecraft.org
Don't forget all the usual suspects: museums, schools, Habitat for Humanity, thrift stores that benefit non-profits and churches!
Pretty much any passion you have, you can find a non-profit looking for you! Don't delay, volunteer today!