What if we told you that there’s something you could start doing—right now—that would allow you to develop your skills and talents, make friends, discover new interests, give you a more competitive resume, and give back to your community all at the same time? Sound too good to be true? It’s everyone’s favorite 12-letter word (granted, there are only so many 12-letter words): Volunteering.
Volunteering can benefit your life in all kinds of ways while also enriching the lives of the people (or animals) around you. It can be difficult to know how to start volunteering, which is why this article was written just for you. There are all kinds of volunteer opportunities in Champaign & Urbana just waiting for you to get involved. No matter what your interests are, there’s something for everyone!
Want to volunteer with animals?
If you’re looking for more feline influence in your life, consider volunteering at CATsNAP. The organization adopts out cats, provides cat-care aid, and promotes healthy cat population control.
If you’re a bird lover but prefer work that’s less hands-on, consider reviewing grant applications, printing newsletters, and more through the Audubon Society.
The Humane Society hosts dogs, cats, rabbits, and other small animals who are available for adoption. Volunteers provide essential animal care, cleaning, and enrichment!
If you’ve ever wondered what happens to animals when their owners are no longer able to care for them, find the answer at Hospice Hearts. You can volunteer by fostering an animal in need, working at hospice events, or providing transportation.
SHARE is a horse sanctuary that currently homes and cares for 40+ animals. If you’re interested in caring for horses, contact SHARE for more information on how to get started.
Want to volunteer with children?
You can make a difference by mentoring and befriending low-income, underprivileged youth from single-parent households through Big Brothers Big Sisters.
If you want a grab bag of youth volunteer experience, reach out to your nearest elementary, middle, or high school! The majority accept volunteers for all kinds of different positions.
Crisis Nursery is a safe place for children whose parents are temporarily unable to care for them, whether that be for a few hours or a few days. Volunteering here is a chance to care for and play with young children ages 0 to 6.
Volunteering with the Boys & Girls Club is a great way to gain experience with children from a wide range of backgrounds and ages, primarily by spending time with them through summer and after-school programs.
Want medical volunteer experience?
At Carle, you can volunteer in the hospice department or opt to serve as a general volunteer in a specific field you’re interested in. Carle also offers volunteer opportunities specifically designed for students.
If you’re interested in serving Champaign County’s uninsured population, the CCCHC and its medical volunteer opportunities could be a good fit for you. While it’s primarily a health center, the CCCHC also offers non-medical volunteer opportunities.
You can find several different volunteer opportunities at the OSF Medical Center, depending on your age and your interests. Visit their website to learn more!
Assist a nurse, help enroll patients in healthcare plans, prepare pediatric records, prepare food, and more when you volunteer through Promise Healthcare.
Want to volunteer outdoors?
Whether you want to make a difference via gardening, community education, land stewardship, or something else entirely, you can find the opportunity through the Forest Preserve.
Assist with Champaign events, coach a youth sport, work with animals at Prairie Farm, or spend time with older adults in the community—it’s all available for Champaign Park District volunteers!
Just like its Champaign counterpart, there’s a little bit of everything available here. You might find yourself reviewing trail camera footage, teaching a youth summer class, or maintaining the Anita Purves Nature Center. Reach out today to learn more!
There’s always more to do and to learn.
While we’ve listed several different volunteer opportunities in Champaign & Urbana here, there are countless ways to give back to your community and dozens of exciting opportunities out there that aren’t on this list. There are volunteer opportunities that you might not have known existed, like advocating for abused children in court or just getting right down to it and building houses.
If none of the opportunities above caught your eye, we recommend checking out other extensive lists of volunteering opportunities in the CU area (like this United Way list) or using volunteer-finding services like VolunteerMatch. Whether you volunteer with people or animals, in nature or a construction site, volunteering means you can make a difference and change your community for good. Go for it!