On of the greatest joys in life is to find a place to share your gifts and talents, isn’t it? While it’s not always easy to find the places and organizations where you can do precisely that, and we know there are some very specific talents you may have to share, we are here with some suggestions to get you started. This is NOT a comprehensive list, as we know there are tons of wonderful places to volunteer in our area.
Here are several places to share your time and talents in Champaign-Urbana.
Area schools are always looking for volunteers to help out with a variety of needs. Some areas you may volunteer include tutoring (one-on-one or in a small group), helping a teacher by creating bulletin boards or making copies, teaching enrichment units, mentoring a student (a more long-term commitment) and more. As a note, all area schools will require you to fill out an application and complete a background check, and some may have a training session for you to attend before beginning. For more information and applications, visit the Champaign Unit 4 site or the Urbana District 116 site; if you live beyond C-U, a simple call to your closest school should get you started in the right direction.
The Champaign Public Library and Urbana Free Library need volunteers for a variety of roles. In addition to the things you may be thinking of, like shelving books or assisting patrons on computers, there are also program-specific volunteers, such as helping with the Champaign Public Library’s weekly family fun night on Thursday evenings, or volunteering as a chess player at the Urbana Free Library. Visit the Champaign Public Library’s site or the Urbana Free Library’s site. If you live beyond C-U, give your library a call or visit their website to find out what opportunities are available.
Crisis Nursery allows volunteers to make a direct impact on a child’s life in a meaningful way. Volunteers can become a “safe children program volunteer” and work directly with children, or help out as a “strong families program volunteer” and work with Crisis Nursery staff during parenting groups. While there will be a little more time involved up front when you begin volunteering at Crisis Nursery (fingerprinting, orientation, training, etc.), both volunteer tracks are certainly both fulfilling ones! Click here to apply.
Champaign County Humane Society
After an orientation session and spending your first shift with a Humane Society staff member, you’re welcome to come in to volunteer as often as you’re able to. Volunteers can be an adoption counselor to help match potential adopters with pets or serve as a kennel assistant by feeding pets and cleaning areas. With a bit more training or serving in another role first, volunteers can also socialize the cats, dogs and small animals served at the Humane Society to best prepare them for adoption. The first step is to fill out an application by clicking here.
Champaign County Forest Preserve District
Volunteering with the Forest Preserve District will typically involve time spent a short drive from Champaign-Urbana at Lake of the Woods (Mahomet), Homer Lake (Homer) or other nearby locations. If you like to garden, this would be a great place to volunteer! Other opportunities include office assistance, special event help or caring for artifacts. Trail Stewards and Garden Stewards ensure these areas are kept safe for all to enjoy. Click here to apply to be a volunteer.
Krannert Center for the Performing Arts
Join the Krannert Center Community Volunteers and serve as an usher, prepare bulk mailings, spread the word about Krannert events and more. All volunteers need to attend a training before volunteering; you can get started by creating an account here.
Volunteer opportunities abound at area hospitals. At Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana there are nearly 1,200 volunteers who provide more than 120,000 hours a year. Read about those opportunities here. OSF Heart of Mary Medical Center in Urbana offers similar spots; some requirements must be met, such as having proof of immunity against Rubella and measles and chicken pox for those born after 1957.
Allerton Park & Retreat Center
Gardeners also might want to take a look at volunteering at Allerton Park in Monticello, about a 25-minute drive from C-U. Tend to the formal gardens, be a tour guide or a trail steward, among other things. Fill out an application or attend an orientation sessions (March-November).
Ushering, ticket taking, concessions, box office work, merchandise sales and crowd control are among the responsibilities of volunteers at the historic Virginia Theatre in Champaign. Fill out the application here.
Champaign County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate)
There are two websites that you should keep handy. The Family Service RSVP program connects volunteers with volunteer opportunities. Read more about it here. And https://cuvolunteer.org/ is a portal that dozens of Champaign-Urbana organizations utilize to solicit volunteers for events, outings, performances and anything else that requires help. This is also an ideal outlet to search for mentoring opportunities. Click on “organizations,” then type in “mentor” to obtain a listing of mentorship possibilities.