Making the decision to volunteer is a difficult decision. Knowing why it is that you want to volunteer helps you decide among your wide-ranging options for funding, location and organizations.
Volunteering with a government-sponsored volunteer program like the Peace Corps of the United States may solve some of these lingering questions. In government-sponsored volunteer programs like the Peace Corps all expenses are paid, including health and accident insurance, training costs, travel expenses, along with stipend for volunteers. However, in volunteering with a government-supported volunteer program you are inevitably coupled with US foreign policy objectives.
In volunteering with organizations that work with NGOs and citizens’ groups, it’s important to understand that some of these smaller programs are unable to offer a stipend, insurance, or travel benefits. Funding can often be the greatest obstacle. Student loans, however, can be deferred while participating full time in any tax exempt volunteer agency. Other funding sources include scholarships, fellowships, and loans. More and more volunteer organizations volunteers are eligible for AmeriCorps grants upon completion of service that can go toward further education or to pay for current student subsidized loans. Long-term volunteer opportunities with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity International, Lasallian Volunteers, and Mennonite Central Committee often do provide benefits, including help repaying educational loans, insurance, and monthly stipends. While many short term volunteer opportunities are viewed more as a vacation, during which the volunteers pay for necessary expense during their few weeks of service.
There are many different opportunities out there. Hopefully the links to the right will help you in your search for a place to volunteer your time to help make a difference. It’s not an easy decision or process; however, the difference you could make would never be forgotten.
-- Sonja Pipek ('09)
Other non-governmental volunteer opportunities can be found in the book
Alternatives to the Peace Corps: Volunteer Opportunities.
1. Cristo Rey Network
Teach at one of the Jesuit Cristo Rey high schools, which provide quality, Catholic, college preparatory education to urban young people who live in communities with limited educational options.
2. The Inner-City Teaching Corps
The Inner-City Teaching Corps recruits, supports, and develops dedicated inspired education leaders to serve in inner-city classrooms and school settings. Members earn a teaching certificate and more than half the required credits for a Master’s Degree.
3. ACE - Alliance for Catholic Education
The University of Notre Dame’s ACE program is a two-year service program offering college graduates the opportunity to serve as full-time teachers in under-resourced Catholic schools across the southern United States. Based on the pillars of teaching, community and spirituality, ACE teachers spend two summers studying in the Masters of Education program at Notre Dame and two school years teaching in under-resourced Catholic schools. Upon completion of this program, you’ll receive a cost-free Masters of Education from Notre Dame and possibly an Americorps education award.
4. PACT: Providence Alliance for Catholic Teachers
PACT is a service teaching program in which recent college graduates teach for two years in Catholic Schools in the New England region and earn a tuition-free Masters of Education degree at Providence College. PACT revolves around the cornerstones of service, community, study and spirituality.
5. Lasallian Volunteer Organization
Volunteers work for one or more years of service to schools and agencies of the Brothers whose Mission is to serve the poor. Teach and tutor in elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, alternative schools, adult education programs, outdoor education centers and after school programs.
6. WorldTeach, Inc.
WorldTeach is a private, nonprofit organization providing opportunities for individuals to volunteer for six months or a year teaching English in developing countries.
Peace Brigades International/USA
Known for their use of “protective accompaniment” with their international peace teams trained in nonviolence.
Offers short term volunteer service projects around the world, cooperating with indigenous relief and development organizations.
Witness for Peace
Witness for Peace long-term volunteers make a two-year commitment to work with communities in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Chiapas, and Cuba. Volunteers work on documenting human rights abuses, study the effects of North American foreign and economic policies on the region they are working in, and more.
1. Amizade, Ltd.
Dedicated to promoting volunteerism and providing community service in locations worldwide, offering a mix of community service and recreation giving the volunteers the opportunity to participate in the culture of the region they are working in.
2. Child Family Health International
A nonprofit organization that provides health services to poor communities worldwide by supporting local projects with essential medical supplies, volunteers, and funding; and sending medical, pre-medical, and public health students to areas of Ecuador, Mexico and India for training and service learning.
3. Global Service Corps
Global Service Corps is a project through Earth Island Institute. It hosts volunteers in short- and long-term programs in Costa Rica, Thailand, and Kenya. Volunteers work in the areas of sustainable agriculture, national park maintenance, teaching of English, Health Clinic Assistance, and more.
4. Global Volunteers
Sends volunteers in teams to live in host communities and work with local people on development projects selected by local leadership.
5. Habitat for Humanity International
As many know Habitat for Humanity works to empower people to establish a sustainable grassroots housing program in their own communities.
6. Institute for International Cooperation and Development
Sends volunteers to work on projects including; community health and AIDS prevention education, literacy and vocational skills teaching, school and clinic construction, agricultural extension with small-scale farmers, and teacher training.
7. Visions in Action
Makes arrangements for volunteers in Latin America and Africa’s rural and urban areas with development organizations and media; working in areas including: research and writing, human rights, democracy, community development, and much more.
1. Toledo Eco-Tourism Association and Punta Gorda Conservation Committee
Works with fourteen indigenous communities, thirteen of which are Maya and one which is Garifuna, in the areas of eco-tourism, rainforest conservation, and sustainable development through Plenty International.
2. WWOOF International (Willing Workers on Organic Farms)
This organization provides those who want to volunteer to work on an organic farm with a list of host farms throughout the world.
3. The Sokoni Safari
A two-week trip to Kenya connected with the Greenbelt Movement, staying with families in rural Kenya assisting with agricultural tasks and learning about the culture.