Volunteering has been my favorite way of connecting with the local community – it’s an awesome way to become part of a new city and donate a little time where help is needed. A couple charities have become my favorite over the years…
1. Friends of International Students makes connections between the community and international students who’re new to the University of Iowa. We became members of this organization within a month of moving to Iowa City in July 2014 and were paired with two international students from India – it’s been a blast to learn more about their culture, and I know they’ve enjoyed seeing the inside of our American home and trying some of my home-cooked food!
2. Girls On The Run is a new adventure for me! Through this after-school program for girls in 3-8th grade, self-confidence, respect for others, and a feeling of community is taught by coaches via fun, movement-focused lessons. The really unique part of this program is that after 24 lessons/practices, each team of girls ends the season with a 5k alongside their coach – proving to the girls that there are no limits to what they can accomplish! I’m thrilled to have been accepted into the program as a head coach for a local elementary school and I can’t wait for our first day of practice in mid-February!
3. Springdale Animal Services is the humane society where we adopted our pup, Koda! I volunteered here while we lived in Fayetteville, Arkansas and I can honestly say that I’ve never met a more cohesive and passionate team than those working to find forever homes for all the stray, abandoned, and abused cats and dogs here. Getting even one dog out for a walk in the fresh air or snuggling with one cat for 20 minutes will seriously warm your heart.
4. Big Brothers Big Sisters this is a program I’ve been part of three times now, for a total of six years. As we’ve had a bout of adventurous home relocations, I’ve had to move within two years of being assigned to a little sister and I’ve always been envious of those who’ve been able to maintain a relationship with their littles as they grow up. My favorite thing about this program is that you can be any age to be a big brother or sister, and you can even sign up as a family.
5. Back On My Feet helps those experiencing homelessness see themselves as valuable, strong, talented, and disciplined people so they can move themselves towards a self-sufficient life. Through a running community, those experiencing homelessness learn the values of self-worth and taking things one step at at time and eventually, by staying diligent to the running team, they are provided training and employment opportunities. I learned about this awesome organization through signing up to run a Ragnar Relay, which is a sponsor of the Back On My Feet mission in Chicago (more on the relay in a few days!).
What charities are you passionate about?