April marks National Volunteer Month, a time to recognize past volunteer efforts and encourage people to lend a helping hand. While places like food pantries and animal shelters may not be an option during this tough time, there are many ways to make a difference in your community online. For those stuck inside, you can still use your time and talents to help causes you care about from your phone or computer.
AAA Northeast first launched its employee volunteer program three years ago with the goal of supporting employees who volunteer their time to community service organizations. Last year alone, employees across the Northeast logged in close to 3,000 hours.
Karen Diehl, employee program manager at AAA, says playing a role in the growth and development of the volunteer program has been one her proudest accomplishments.
Diehl has been with AAA for 15 years and has seen firsthand how employees and members work together when faced with adversity.
“Our emphasis on the club volunteer program has been tailored based on our new work environment, and we are introducing employees to the idea of volunteering virtually,” Diehl said. “Volunteering online allows you to contribute your time and your skills to organizations right from your home.”
Virtual Volunteer Opportunities
Before signing up to volunteer online, think about your passions and the causes you care about most. From text-based counseling to helping students, volunteers are always needed, and volunteers are needed now more than ever. To get you started, we’ve listed a few different ways you can support a cause you’re passionate about.
VolunteerMatch is a top resource for volunteer opportunities with a large selection of organizations that support a range of causes, including education, the environment and homelessness.
The United Nations Volunteers program offers dozens of online opportunities across the world. Volunteers can team up with meaningful organizations working to address sustainable development challenges.
Catchafire is a search tool that matches candidates with organizations based on their interests, skills, and availability. Nonprofits across the country can request volunteer support on various projects from fundraising and finance to marketing and technology.
Crisis Text Line is a free 24/7 national crisis-intervention and counseling service that trains volunteers to support people through text messages. Crisis counselors use the nonprofit’s web-based platform to offer emotional support to people who are struggling for whatever reason. Visit the organization’s website to learn more about what’s involved and if you qualify to be a future volunteer.
Are you a people-person who can help young people reach their career goals? Career Village is an online platform that connects volunteers with students who are looking to get personalized career advice from professionals. Sign up through LinkedIn and set your own schedule to start working with students and educators from across the world.
AAA Employee Volunteerism
Diehl recalls her first time volunteering alongside team members at the Rhode Island Food Bank.
“At the end day, I was dirty, and I was tired, but it was well worth it,” Diehl said. “I think one of the things people find difficult with volunteering is that they can’t find the time to do it. It is a rewarding experience just to know that you’ve made a difference.”
Stephanie Freeman, a marketing manager at AAA, recently volunteered with members of her team at Crossroads Rhode Island, a nonprofit shelter that helps homeless or at-risk individuals and families secure stable homes.
“It was great team-building activity, but more importantly, it was a humbling experience,” Freeman said. “I think it’s healthy for all of us to just sit there and realize that there are people who need more and that we all have something to offer. It really puts your life in perspective.”
Over the past few years, employees have used volunteered time at organizations such as Toys for Tots, Habitat for Humanity, local food pantries and shelters and Ronald MacDonald House Charities, as well as participating in local cleanups for Earth Day.
Will you try virtual volunteering? Tell us in the comments.