Volunteer Opportunities Near Me In The Capital Region

Earlier, I wrote about how we developed service projects with kids from service project ideas to community-wide take action projects. The article lists what we did to learn about various issues and includes leadership resources that helped us undertake service projects. But the important take away is that service projects should be community-driven; that is, it’s important to learn about the issues but also to investigate the actual needs of the community.

Longtime Girl Scout leader and volunteer, Bonnie Kerr, recently compiled a list of service project ideas for older girls in Northeast New York that I’ve shamelessly pilfered (with permission.) As you read the list, think about how you could adapt it to your region, and to your community’s needs. And of course, there’s no reason why boys couldn’t do good too!

Service Project Ideas

Volunteer at a Food Pantry

Contact a Food Pantry to help organize their shelves, put away deliveries or help distribute items. Several to choose from:

  • Concerns-U – 34 Academy St., Rensselaer, NY 12144, (518) 463-8571.
  • Troy Larger Parish Food Pantry – 313 Tenth Street – Troy, NY 12180.
  • Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York – 965 Albany Shaker Road, Latham, NY 12110,
    (518) 786-3691.
  • Mt. Ida Community Food Pantry, 560 Congress Street, Troy, NY, 12180 or call 518-272-1115.

Volunteer at a Homeless Shelter

  • Preparing weekend meals for Joseph’s House in Troy.  (Contact Paul Delio at 272-2544.)  They also coordinate a Winter Walk and are always accepting donations of toiletries, clothing, linens, etc. Troops could also offer craft or reading programs for the children living at Joseph’s House.  See their website for more information on their program/mission – www.josephshousetroy.org.
  • Preparing Thanksgiving Meals or serving meals Thanksgiving Day with The Equinox in Albany 434-0131 (they sign up volunteers starting October 19.)  Must be 14 or older to do this.http://www.equinoxinc.org/.
  • Read: Service Is The Heart of Citizenship – Cub Scouts learn about citizenship as they do good deeds like volunteering at a homeless shelter.

Park Clean Up

Work with your Town or School District to do a park/playground clean-up; and/or join in on volunteer events in your area during National Public Lands Day.

Read: Did You Hug A Tree Today? – Article about Girl Scout’s National Public Lands Day Celebration at Glimmerglass State Park.

Volunteer at Nursing Home

Contact a local nursing home and see about adopting a grandparent. Commit to visiting them at least once a month and to send cards at holidays/birthdays. Maybe the scouts could teach the folks about using Skype or e-mail so they can be in touch with relatives far away. Past service projects include helping create a multimedia oral history, volunteering on Bingo night, making seasonal decorations, and providing an entertaining concert or show.

Some places that welcome volunteers:

  • Adult Day Services of Northeast Health such as Eddy DayBreak at North Greenbush – 300 Valley View Blvd., North Greenbush, NY (518) 286-1986. (See link for listing of other centers in the region.)
  • Rosewood Gardens Nursing Home – 284 Troy Rd, Rensselaer, NY12144, (518) 286-1621.

Literacy Volunteer

Help Literacy Volunteers of America with their Run or other event – 274-8526

Health Volunteer

  • Organize crafts or games for Noogieland at Gilda’s Club in Latham – 782-9833 ask for Alana
  • Sponsor/Organize a Blood Drive for the American Red Cross – 458-8111.

Read: Girl Scouts Helping Kids With Cancer – Workshop on learning how to be a good friend to someone who has cancer, and take action projects to cheer hospitalized children.

Support Our Soldiers

In May – Working with the American Legion or VFW to help them place flags on the gravesites of veterans.

Read: Service Projects To Support Our Soldiers – Cub Scout Program at NY’s Army National Guard, and additional resource links.

Community Service Agencies and Other Service Project Ideas

Contact a local community service agency and ask what they could use help with – painting, a collection drive, stuffing envelopes. Some choices: Ronald McDonald House, Children’s Hospital at Albany Med, YWCA of Troy, Community Gardens, East Greenbush Library, Rainbow Division National Guard, Unity House {broad spectrum of services}, Damien Center, and our local fire departments.

  • Contact Habitat for Humanity at 462-2993 – although you have to be 16 to wield a hammer, younger girls can prepare meals for the folks working and do other tasks.  See here for more info on ways to help: http://www.capitaldistricthabitat.org/volunteer.
  • Go to Wiawaka Holiday House in Lake George to help with opening or closing weekend (opening usually around Memorial Day weekend – closing Columbus Day weekend).  This place is awesome – located just outside the village of Lake George.  Amazing history (happens to be my summer job site).  For working the weekend volunteers receive free accommodations and food and access to excellent swimming and hiking!  See their website www.wiawaka.org for information on their history and mission.  Christine Dixon may have other projects that girls could work on during the year (painting, organizing, being a gopher at their fundraiser).
  • Volunteering to help with Lights in the Park with the Police Athletic League (PAL.) This is an awesome activity. Girls get to dress up in “mascot” costumes (Elmo, Rudolph, Gingerbread man, a character we call “Mayor Mouse” and more) at the Lake House to welcome guests. Some get to pass out stickers/candycanes. All receive a free ride around the light display at the end of the night and a free cocoa while “on duty”. Contact Sherry at PAL 435-0392. If you have sewers among you – they could really use a new costume or two (BIG ones – with heads and all) – or maybe a fundraiser to purchase one or two.
  • See East Greenbush Girl Scout’s past service projects at www.eastgreenbushgirlscouts.org/blog.

As I worked through this list, I realized that there are a lot more service project ideas that I would like to add. So, this will be an ongoing list, and I welcome your suggestions.