Aug 12, 2022 - Things to Do

Volunteering is easier than you think

Four kittens standing on an orange blanket; two are alert, one is asleep and one has its back turned
These four adorable kittens greeted me Saturday at my first cat care volunteer shift at Columbus Humane. Photo: Alissa Widman Neese/Axios

👋 Alissa here. Ever want to do something out of your comfort zone but feel too intimidated to take the first step?

  • I've thought about volunteering for years but assumed I didn't have enough free time to actually make an impact.

Driving the news: I recently became a Columbus Humane cat care volunteer — via a training process that was thorough but not at all daunting.

How it works: We play with cats and monitor their behavior with careful notes. Many shelter animals are understandably stressed, but if they're kept comfortable and socialized, they're more likely to be adopted.

  • I schedule two-hour shifts at my convenience at least twice a month.

The big picture: About 90% of Americans want to volunteer but only 25% actually do, per Stanford University.

  • With pandemic shutdowns behind us, many nonprofits are still working to replenish volunteers as activities ramp up again, their leaders tell Axios.
  • Meanwhile, flexible work-from-home schedules are freeing up many potential volunteers — including me — to help for the first time.

😺 Quick take: During my first shift last weekend, the cats embodied how many of us feel when trying something new.

  • Some are fearless, like Cindi, who leapt out of her kennel and into my lap.
  • But many more are like Princess Peep, who required some coaxing and encouragement before finding the confidence to step outside.

😻 Ultimately, both cats were adopted and I'm proud to have played a small part.

The bottom line: Volunteering is a great way to connect with people who share your interests and give back — and it's never too late to take that first step. These groups list lots of local opportunities:

What's next: Columbus Humane's next volunteer orientation is Aug. 30. Opportunities range from washing dishes and greeting visitors to photography and animal care.

📬 We want to know: What are your favorite ways to give back? Hit reply!

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