By Rebecca Poling
It goes without saying that without volunteers, nonprofit organizations cannot fulfill their mission and achieve their goals. But did you know that, according to Volunteer Hub, studies have shown volunteers have longer lifespans than non-volunteers, better heart health, and reduced anxiety and depression? And pets – well, the CDC has an entire section of their website detailing a long list of health benefits attributed to pets: decreased blood pressure, decreased cholesterol levels, decreased triglyceride levels, decreased feelings of loneliness, increased opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities, and increased opportunities for socialization. So why not put your love of pets to work by volunteering to help a local animal shelter or rescue group, and reap the health benefits of both pets and volunteerism?
You may be surprised to learn just what a variety of volunteer opportunities animal shelters and rescue groups offer. Sure, you’re likely familiar with the basics: Walking and socializing dogs, brushing and socializing cats, cleaning, laundry, and dishwashing, but some organizations could use your help in other ways, on-site, off-site, and even some you can do from the comfort of your own home.
IT: Hardware or software installation, updating or troubleshooting, printer driver installation and/or repairs, or shared cloud storage set up
Communication: Pet photography, event photography, e-newsletter writing, press release writing, online storytelling, or newsletter design
Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, or even Pinterest
Graphic Design: Flyer, poster, signage and banner design and creation, social media image design, or newsletter layouts
Retail: Lobby retail store or thrift shop work sorting, straightening, pricing, assisting customers, display design, or checkout
Maintenance: Handyman work, lawn work, irrigation system maintenance and programming, cabinet building, shelf assembly, security system installation, lock replacement, kennel repair, or supply restocking
Fundraising: Collecting money from donation boxes, donation data entry, writing thank you notes, helping host events or solicit sponsors
Administrative: Letter writing, data tracking, PowerPoint presentation development, or spreadsheet creation
Events: Planning, scheduling, publicity, gathering estimates, hiring entertainers, selling tickets, gathering auction and raffle items, writing scripts, manning booths, decorating venues, or registering guests
Community Outreach: Greeting visitors, educating children, visiting seniors, helping with TNR or helping recover lost pets
So where do you start? Pick up the phone or send an email (most prefer email) or check the organization’s website for an online volunteer application. Not every organization needs help in all these areas all the time, but you never know. If you see something you are interested in or possess a special skill, reach out and ask if they need help.
Volunteer contact information for some of the largest area adoption agencies is below or check the Animal Rescue & Adoption Group Listings page in this issue or Flagstaff-Sedona Dog magazine.
Large or small, these organizations need you. The animals need you. H. Jackson Brown Jr., the author of Life’s Little Instruction Book once said, “Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.” Be happy. Be healthy. Volunteer today.