While I really enjoy drop-in computer lab at the International Institute of New England, my two-hour-a-week obligation doesn't fill me up. I've let the volunteer manager know that I'm interested in doing some classroom assisting in the English for Employment program, but the agency doesn't have any slots available right now, as they're trying to absorb a flood of more than 400 prospective volunteers who have inquired recently, while also coping with an uncertain landscape for refugees under the new administration.
In another computer search I discovered Boston Cares, which opened up a whole world of possibilities. Boston Cares, a nonprofit organization affiliated with the national Hands On Network, allows you to choose one-time opportunities from a monthly calendar, based on the time you have available (2-5 hours) and your areas of interest. Options include stocking food pantries, preparing and serving meals at shelters, playing Scrabble with homebound elders, tutoring kids after school, cuddling cats (no kidding), gardening on the Greenway, and lots more. Over the next couple of months, my husband Ted and I have signed up to select books for prisoners, do office work for Big Sisters, help manage inventory with youth who run an online book business, conduct practice job interviews for low-income adults, and wrap birthday presents for homeless kids.
Ted and I had to attend a one-hour orientation before getting started, and we each received a folder of additional information about Boston Cares programs. In that folder, which I finally got around to reading through a couple of weeks later, I found a flyer about opportunities for ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) conversation groups and classroom assistants in community-based agencies. Exactly the kind of work I've wanted to do! I filled out another form to express interest, and waited to learn more. Waiting, as I've discovered, is part of the volunteering life.