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10 Ways to Give Back To Your City This Month With Volunteer Odyssey

There’s someone exceptional in our city. Okay, I know there’s more than just one, but hear me out. Her name is Stacey. Some of you probably know her, and some of you know someone like her, someone exceptional. She’s not a native Memphian, but she takes care of this city like it’s her own. She is pursuing her PhD to ensure that she can provide patients with a doctor they can identify with, something she wants to see more of.

She told me something incredible, understandable, and inspiring.

I asked her what she would say to someone who has not yet started volunteering. She said would respond with what she called a LUV talk.

She would Listen, Understand, and Validate. Part of listening is asking why they haven’t started serving yet. They might not care, they might not feel like they can affect anything, or they don’t think they have money to spare. Then she moves into validating these responses. If you feel like you don’t care or can’t affect anything, ask yourself if you are being the best you can be. If you feel like you don’t have the money to, think about what other things you are rich in.

She ended with the best quote of all, “If it’s a matter of not thinking about it…here’s your opportunity to start.”

Take this as a sign. If you’re not yet thinking about how to give back, here’s ten ways to get started:

1. Vaccination Volunteers, Germantown Baptist Church, Monday through Friday

You can volunteer to assist in vaccination efforts at the Germantown site. Volunteers are needed Monday through Friday with shifts throughout the day. You can assist with crucial tasks such as checking patients in, distributing paperwork, directing traffic, and more. Note that shifts open one week in advance. Register here!

A man in a turban giving back to his city through Volunteer Odyssey.

2. Memphis Botanic Garden Monthly Weed Wrangle, May 7th from 9AM to 12PM

Join the Memphis Botanic Garden as they work to remove invasive and exotic plants in their wildflower woodland! The presence of exotic and invasive plants limits the growth potential of native plants, who compete for the same resources. The goal is to begin removing invasive plants to revert the area back to a native woodland.
Sign up here!

3. St. Vincent de Paul Food Mission Volunteer, May 10th from 8AM to 11AM (repeats daily)

Join the St. Vincent de Paul Food Mission as they serve neighbors experiencing hunger every day of the week. Volunteers are needed to help prepare and plate the hot food served. Other tasks, such as unpacking and sorting food products, may be needed to ensure that each visitor receives a quality meal. Sign up for your slot here!

4. Habitat ReStore Volunteer, May 12th from 9:30 AM to 1:30 PM (repeats Tues-Sat.)

The Memphis ReStore is owned and operated by Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis. All proceeds from the ReStore benefit the programs of Memphis Habitat. Volunteers are needed to assist with running the floor, customer service, sorting houseware, helping in the donation center, answering phones, and other tasks as assigned. Volunteers need to attend virtual orientation before volunteering. Register here!

A man is holding a bag.

5. Cooper Young Garden Walk Volunteers, May 15th and 16th from 9AM to 4PM

Join the Cooper-Young Garden Club in their annual Garden Walk. This year features 94 gardens throughout the Cooper-Young area. Volunteers are placed in a garden for their shift and have the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful outdoor space and interact with guests. No garden knowledge is needed. Volunteering for one shift guarantees yourself a ticket to tour the gardens, experience six musical acts, and get discounts at local restaurants and Memphis Made Brewing. Sign up for your shift here!

6. Memphis Rox Community Lunch Program, May 17th from 11AM to 2PM (repeats daily, Monday through Friday)

Join Memphis Rox as they serve the Soulsville community by implementing a free bag lunch program to help distribute food options during the pandemic. They invite one volunteer each day to help assist in the distribution of the bag lunches. This is a great opportunity for a student as the volunteer waits in the cafe and can get work done until someone comes up for their lunch bag. Register here!

7. Catholic Charities of West Tennessee, Food Box Packing, May 20th from 1PM to 3PM

Assist Catholic Charities of West Tennessee in serving neighbors experiencing hunger and homelessness. You can visit their new Community Support Center and pack food boxes in their large warehouse. Sign up here!

(Note: If you have clothes you want to donate, you can drive through their donation window off of Jefferson, Monday through Thursday from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm through a drive organized by UTHSC. See more and schedule your drop-off time here! Oh, and also, Stacey in the story above is organizing this drive. Talk about full circle.)

Two people wearing face masks volunteering on a sidewalk.

8. Room in the Inn Memphis, daily opportunities with shifts throughout the day

Room in the Inn has recently moved to a brand new facility, and opened the Mid-South’s first Recuperative Care Center. They are in need of many volunteers to assist with crucial, daily tasks and programming. Volunteers are needed to work the front desk, assist staff in their work, lead art and wellness classes, tutor guests, assist staff on the weekends to provide guests with fun activities, and more. See all the ways you can serve and sign up here!

9. Make-A-Wish Mid-South, Spanish Speaking Volunteers, Open Opportunity

Join Make-A-Wish Mid-South as they grant wishes for children facing critical illnesses throughout the Mid-South. Now more than ever, Spanish-speaking interpreters and translators are needed to help make these wishes come true for families with Spanish as their primary language. Opportunities range from translating documents to conducting phone interviews to joining virtual wish visits. No matter what your schedule is, there is a way you can help make a wish come true.

Click here to learn more and apply!

10. Youth Villages, Cards for Graduates, Open Opportunity

Help us congratulate Youth Village’s LifeSet young adults graduating from high school and college by sending them a celebratory card! The LifeSet participants are young adults transitioning from Foster Care to adulthood so graduating – and receiving a card from you – is a big deal! You’ll receive the name of a graduate so you can personalize your card to them. Sign up to help celebrate them here!

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