If you’ve already listened to the December episode of our Spectrum Health Journey podcast, this post contains all the links we mentioned for volunteering during the holidays and beyond.
If you haven’t listened, please do! Spectrum Health Journey is a warm and engaging half hour of conversation about mental wellness. Hosted by Spectrum Health’s program manager Malene K. White and local advertising executive Bob Stachura, each episode is comfortable and informative. Sometimes there are special guests and sometimes it’s just Bob and Malene chatting and you get to listen in…and you’ll be glad that you did.
During the December episode, I talked about places that need and value time and service from volunteer. When you volunteer, you do so much more than help an organization do its work. You’re giving yourself a gift, too.
In the words of folk singer Livingston Taylor, “Give your all to others and it all comes back to you.”
During the holidays especially – if you don’t have a family or circle of friends for a joyous celebration – some of us feel lonely, depressed, isolated. Giving back and engaging with others can be one way to feel more connected to the positive vibes about the season. Volunteering is proven to reduce stress, produce happiness, build self-confidence, and help you find purpose. Offer your time and talent at places like the Ronald McDonald House or Kevin Guest House or Grace House….places where parents or families may stay while loved ones are under treatment at hospitals. Some places let you help cook or serve a meal or help people pass the time. A home-cooked meal in a welcoming atmosphere can mean so much to a family and your warmth and kindness will help heal a family member’s soul.
Buffalo City Mission has programs for men and women and their children year round. For Christmas there is a significant for volunteers for a program called the Hambone Express, to deliver dinners on Christmas morning. Drivers, reservation takers, and other volunteers are needed.
Reach out to Sister Johnice and the work she does at the Response to Love Center in East Buffalo. There’s the Friends of the Night People on the west side that welcomes volunteers, too. Remember to call ahead to ask about needs and when volunteers are most welcomed.
Buffalo Dream Weavers collects new or gently used warm coats and sweaters and blankets and scarves and hangs them on fences in key neighborhoods so folks in need can help themselves. These volunteers also keep Buffalo’s Code Blue Shelters stocked with socks (the most requested item) and other essentials.
St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy serves more than 2,000 meals a day, six days a week and shelters people in need of homes. Volunteers are always welcomed to help serve or to help sort clothing donations and food donations, too, for the food pantry.
Buffalo Dream Center distributes hot meals three nights a week in its Friends Feeding Friends program.
Hospitals always need volunteers and holidays are no exception. Providing comfort and companionship to patients is welcomed, along with tasks like delivering mail and helping in reception areas. Buffalo Mercy Hospital and Sisters of Charity Hospital also welcome baby cuddlers to soothe little ones in the NICU.
If you’re more inclined to love on our four-legged friends, The City of Buffalo Animal Shelter has a friends group that helps walk dogs, socialize dogs and cats for their fur-ever home, and escorting dogs to meet and greet events. Kitties and doggos need care and companionship every day and they love on you unconditionally.
While we’re talking about December holidays, make sure you’re ready the wintery weather that is sure to come our way. Erie County has a great website with winter preparedness help. New York State has free workshops that share good info, too. Both will prompt you to lay in some essentials to get your home and car ready for the inevitable blustery days.
Most importantly, reach out to neighbors and friends to let them know you’re here for them. Your act of kindness is powerful.
Executive Producer, Spectrum Health Journey