Winston Churchill is famously quoted as saying, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” And that is certainly true as you build your new life here in Madison, Wisconsin. Volunteering helps you contribute to your new community and is also one of the best ways to meet people and get connected.
Getting started can be daunting, though. There are so many opportunities, but it’s hard to know how to find them when you’re just getting familiar with the area. Thankfully, a couple of simple tips will get you connected quickly to the right volunteer opportunity (or opportunities!) for you.
- Pick one that matches with your values so that it’s something you can get passionate about.
- Check out volunteermatch.org. Not only is the list active and updated often, but it also is searchable if you are looking for a certain opportunity.
Or if you’re the type of person who just wants to be told “Go do this!”, you can always try one of these opportunities that we’re especially fond of:
Shelter From The Storm – Shelter From The Storm is a nonprofit based right here in Madison. It works with all breeds of dogs and cats in an effort to “reduce the euthanasia rate of healthy and adoptable animals and improve the lives of companion animals.” Volunteers can help by socializing with the animals, doing various cleaning or administrative tasks at the shelter & clinic, or assisting with adoption days, among other things.
Habitat For Humanity – Habitat For Humanity envisions a world where “everyone has a decent place to live.” An international organization with a chapter here in Dane County, Habitat has many opportunities for volunteers, whether on a construction site, in a warehouse, at one of the Habitat Re-Store resale shops, or fundraising and social networking.
Agrace Hospice Care – Agrace is a nonprofit serves southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois by “partnering with patients and families to improve quality of life throughout serious illness.” Volunteers can work directly with patients or families, or help with other tasks like office work, hospitality, event assistance, or serving in Agrace thrift stores.
Goodman Community Center – A private nonprofit in Madison for over 60 years, Goodman Community Center’s mission is to “strengthen lives and secure futures.” Its many programs and services are aimed at creating a community “that’s thriving because everyone is valued and has the resources they need to be successful.” Goodman prizes volunteers and there are numerous serving opportunities, whether you’re looking for a regular weekly commitment or something more sporadic. As one volunteer named Johnny said on the Goodman website, “Volunteering at Goodman has helped me feel at home in the Madison area. I fostered many friendships because of it and can proudly call myself an active Madison citizen.”
Urban League of Greater Madison, Inc. – 2018 marks the 50th year of the Urban League of Greater Madison and it is still actively engaged in its mission to “ensure that African Americans and other community members are educated, employed and empowered to live well, advance professionally and contribute to the common good in the 21st Century.” Volunteers can assist with tutoring, career preparation, and workforce development.
Second Harvest Food Pantry – Headquartered in Madison, Second Harvest is one of 200 members of the national charity Feeding America. Its mission is to end hunger in southwestern Wisconsin.
River Food Pantry – Serving Dane County since 2006, The River Food Pantry counts on neighbors to help neighbors in need. The River is the area’s busiest pantry serving groceries, community meals, mobile lunches, clothing and household goods to those who are struggling to make ends meet. The River’s mission is to bring a message of mercy and hope to those in need by providing nutritional basics and encouragement.
These are just a handful of ways you can serve the Madison area and start getting to know its vibrant people. The most important thing is just to get out there and try something. Madison is waiting for you!