A blog by Darby Wiekrykas.
As United Way of Berks County’s Volunteer Engagement Program Manager, I’m inspired daily by the desire of Berks Countians to make a difference in our community. Many times, people want to get involved, but they don’t know where to begin. Below is a list of the top questions I receive about volunteering.
How can I help?
This is a question I hear often. The best piece of advice I can share is to think of what you’re passionate about, then visit United Way’s volunteer website. The website provides various opportunities that can be searched by interest. Whether you are looking to volunteer with children, seniors, homeless, families, etc., the website can filter all the categories that are available. There are also options that are monthly, weekly, and one-time opportunities.
If you’re interested in volunteering with a particular agency that doesn’t have opportunities listed on our site, I suggest visiting the agency’s website to search for opportunities there.
Can I get involved with a limited schedule of availability?
Limited schedules are often easy to work around. One of the best ways to find opportunities is by registering on the United Way’s volunteer website. When someone is registered, they will receive monthly emails with new opportunities and ways to volunteer with local events agencies have a need for additional volunteers. If there is an agency you would like to volunteer for, contact them and explain your situation. Agencies are grateful for any assistance they receive.
I also encourage individuals ages 21-45 to get involved with United Way’s affinity group, Emerging Leaders United (ELU). ELU offers a wide variety of diverse volunteer activities throughout the year and at different times of the day. In 2021 alone, ELU offered their 400+ members 35 volunteer opportunities. To learn more about ELU’s upcoming events visit their website. If interested in joining, simply fill out their membership form. To learn more about ELU please contact Shirley Chapin at Shirleyc@uwberks.org.
Can I volunteer where I live?
There are agencies all over Berks County and most communities have one of our Agency Partners near their homes. If there isn’t an agency close to where you live, then I would suggest looking to volunteer at a local food pantry. As a result of the pandemic and rising food costs, food insecurity is growing in our community, and the need for food pantry services is increasing. Helping Harvest Food Bank is a great resource to find a local food pantry near you.
What are some examples that I can get involved either personally or with my family?
There are always ways to get involved. Below are a few of the immediate needs that are available for individuals to volunteer with.
- Assist a child with reading for an hour, once a week during the school year with the Ready.Set.READ! Star Readers program
- Partner with Berks Encore and deliver Meals on Wheels to homebound seniors (this can also be done as a family)
- Volunteer with Girls on the Run and support girls in learning the important connection between body and mind
- For those who love science can check out the various opportunities with Reading Science Center
There are a lot of agencies that welcome volunteers ages 10 and up, if accompanied by an adult/parent. Always contact the agency first to check if children are welcome to participate. Below are a few suggestion to serve with your families.
- Clean up at local parks/camps
- Serve dinner at a local agency
- If children are younger, families could prepare dessert together at their homes and deliver them to a local agency.
- Do collection for local agencies. A great resource is United Way Wish Lists from nearly 50 agencies and needs the currently have.
For assistance with volunteering, or if you have any questions, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-685-4574.