VOLUNTEER at the Community Help Centre

Volunteering FAQs


1. Why should I volunteer?

There are many reasons why someone might want to volunteer. One thing is certain, if you want to understand the issues that some of our community members face, it is helpful to become directly involved in addressing those issues. Understanding involves caring, and we build community by caring for others.

Other reasons to volunteer:

It feels good to help another person, whether or not you are asked.

You can gain unique life experience.

Volunteering can provide a worthwhile social outlet.

It’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

It builds character.

Some people have more than others – someone out there could use your help.

Build your resumé.

Lean something about yourself by experiencing new things.

Click here to volunteer today!


2. Who might benefit from my volunteer energy?

Youth, adults, senior citizens, persons with disabilities, families, and you, of course, might benefit from your volunteer energy! All sorts of people from all walks of life need a helping hand from time to time… and everyone can gain from helping others in need.

There are many organizations in Centre County that work to improve the lives of specific groups of people. If you want to work with a specific population, you could:

Assist in a preschool or daycare.

Become a youth mentor.

Teach good nutrition habits.

Tutor someone in a subject in which you have expertise.

Help out at a runaway shelter or homeless shelter.

Provide basic life skills training to youth or adults.

Provide transportation to critical appointments or deliver hot meals.

Volunteer at a Senior Citizens’ Center.

Help build an access ramp for a person with a disability.

Complete a tax return for someone who cannot afford to pay for the service.

Read to a person with visual impairment.

Provide care and support at a hospice… and more!

Other people are probably more like you than you realize. When working with people, remember that in addition to human services most people also benefit from:

Encouragement, emotional support, and positive reinforcement.

A sense of stability – think about the length of any commitments you make.

Interaction with people from all walks of life.

Opportunities to form meaningful relationships.

Gaining a sense of responsibility and achievement.

Click here to volunteer today!

3. What issues can I address as a volunteer in Centre County?

There are many social issues that affect our Centre County community. You could volunteer to address issues concerning adequate food, shelter, health, emotional wellbeing, financial stability, literacy and education, transportation and mobility, civil rights and liberties, environmental management, administration of justice, art and culture, recreation, public information, or animal welfare.

There are many organizations in Centre County that work to improve peoples’ lives based on the specific issues that they are facing. If you want to address an issue that affects social stability of our community, you could:

Work at a food bank, organize a food drive, cook meals at a shelter, or deliver hot meals.

Work at a shelter, or help build of repair houses or shelters.

Provide emotional support via a hotline or drop-in center.

Drive someone who has no other options to a critical appointment.

Tutor someone who is working toward a GED, who is learning English as a second language, or who has trouble in a particular subject area.

Serve as a mediator in a courtroom or volunteer for a nonprofit legal service.

Join a disaster response or emergency medical team.

Help maintain parks, hiking trails, and roads.

Volunteer at a museum.

Coach or support a youth sports team.

Play music at a Senior Center or personal care home.

Create video spots for public access tv or help circulate information about a nonprofit organization.

Foster an animal until a suitable home can be located.

Visit an animal shelter to care for companion animals.

Help maintain a local wildlife sanctuary or natural area… and more!

Keep in mind that investment in a particular issue may require some flexibility regarding you might volunteer, because various agencies have different needs at different times.

4. What skills do I need to get involved?

Before thinking about skills, its important to think about attitude! A strong desire to help others and to learn from others is a must. In most instances, it is also true that positive, effective communication goes a long way to facilitate a worthwhile experience for volunteers and the people they benefit.

In many cases, the skills that you need to perform volunteer tasks can be provided for through on-the-job training. You may learn specific office procedures, instructions for various types of manual labor, counseling skills, policies and procedures, basic computer skills, etc. In other words, when you volunteer you will certainly learn some new skills!

In other cases, it is helpful for volunteers to bring particular skills to the job. Some volunteer jobs require specific skills, such as tutoring, playing music, creating marketing materials, providing transportation, maintaining office technology, providing for office construction and repair, etc. In other words, organizations and people can benefit from the skills you already have! Click here to volunteer today!

5. Where can I volunteer?

Many organizations in Centre County rely on volunteer energy to support their programs. At CHC, we have information about volunteer opportunities that are typically available at more than 175 organizations in our community. We also keep track of volunteer opportunities that agencies would like to fill immediately.

Schedule an appointment with a CHC volunteer coordinator to discover how you can help at CHC or at one of the many local organizations that could use your help.

6. What should I do to prepare for my meeting at CHC about volunteer opportunities?

First, you should think about your interests and what you want to gain from your volunteer experience. Think about the skills you’d like to offer and the skills you’d like to learn. Think about the issues you care about and the people you’d like to work with.

Also, you should consider when you are available to volunteer, what means of transportation you have at your disposal (e.g. car, bus), and what length of commitment you are willing and able to make.

7. How much time will I have to commit to the agency at which I volunteer?

The good news is that most organizations have room for volunteers at all commitment intervals. There are one-time opportunities, short-term opportunities, variable opportunities, and long-term opportunities at most agencies. There is quite a bit of overlap inasmuch a specific opportunities at a particular agency is likely to be available to those who want to volunteer on a short- or long-term basis.

If you want to get your feet wet, so to speak, you might consider a one-time or short-term opportunity. These opportunities are typically available on a specific date and time, for the duration of a project, or for any length of time that you negotiate. Hopefully, after a one-time volunteer experience, volunteers will move on to other short-term and long-term opportunities.

If you want to learn new skills or make a significant impact by putting to use the skills you already have, you might consider long-term volunteer opportunities.

8. What types of opportunities are available to people who volunteer one-time, short-term, and long-term?

One-time opportunities are often available during single-day events, around holidays, during certain seasons, or simply when needs arise.

Food banks, soup kitchens, shelters, and other organizations that provide food and community meals typically serve more people around holidays and benefit from extra volunteer support. Senior Centers, personal care homes, and assisted living facilities often use volunteers around the holidays to decorate, to socialize, and to participate in their holiday programs.

During spring and summer months, public parks and other nature facilities often use volunteers to maintain trails, work with animals, and remove litter.

Community Help Centre facilitates a chore assistance program in which community members with no other options request the help of volunteers to perform various tasks such as leaf and snow removal, household winterization tasks, gardening, housekeeping, errands, and routine household maintenance. Many times this help can be provided by an individual or group on a single day.

Some single-day events in our community include United Way Day of Caring, Fresh START at Penn State, MLK Day of Service at Penn State, and Make a Difference Day.

Long-term volunteer opportunities often, but not always, require job-specific training and a specific time commitment. Some examples include providing crisis counseling for domestic-violence-related issues, emotional support via a phone hotline, pre- and post-test counseling at an HIV testing center, disaster response services, youth mentoring, and income tax assistance.

Short-term opportunities are various and many. Some are project-oriented, while others are flexible in terms of specific time commitments. Please note that many short-term opportunities can be tailored to accommodate volunteers looking for long-term engagement. Available short-term opportunities may include filling orders at a food bank, providing office support, tutoring, performing computer work, visiting a personal care home or hospice, and working with animals.

9. What if I want to volunteer once, on a specific day at a specific time?

Sometimes it is possible to find opportunities that match up with your specific availability on a particular day. Most times, though, it is more convenient to find volunteers whose availabilities coincide with the pre-determined needs of the organization or community member. Some organizations even offer one-time volunteer opportunities on or around the same date each year; so, plan ahead!

Even though volunteering once on a specific day is a good way to learn about volunteering and many organizations do have days or projects geared toward one-time volunteering, many organizations appreciate volunteers who are able to make more lengthy commitments and who are flexible regarding what they do to support the organization.

10. What opportunities are available immediately?

We keep a listing of requests for volunteers that have been made by agencies and community members whose needs are very time-sensitive. Check out our listing of time-sensitive volunteer opportunities.

All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.
- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.