Deployment is a lonely time. Living alone, doing projects alone, going to church alone, watching TV alone. It’s kind of miserable at times.
Having friends helps, but sometimes the idea of “making friends” is stressful because it seems like too much work. I’m an introvert, so even though I’m outgoing and love meeting new people, it’s also very draining for me.
During deployment, I don’t have a lot of that extra oomph floating around to make me want to go make friends.
I like the idea of volunteering because it’s not focused on making friends (awkward!) and being social (takes energy!). It’s focused on helping others and doing something you enjoy. As a by-product, you’re very likely to meet people and make connections with like-minded others. It’s kind of a no-pressure friend generator.
Take a look and try out one or two that appeals to you, or let this list inspire another volunteer idea that you’d love to try! You’ll find that by volunteering during deployment, you are doing something worthwhile AND connecting with others, which can help you to feel less alone.
23 Ways To Feel Less Alone By Volunteering During Deployment
- Schools- sign up to be a classroom helper or reading helper.
- Local animal shelter- I did this in Rhode Island. You can walk dogs, help with cleaning, do foster care for animals at your home, or a variety of other tasks.
- Coach a team- if you are decent at a sport and enjoy kids, sign up to be a coach for a sports team. Local city teams are often looking for more help.
- Big Brother/Big Sister- Become a mentor for underprivileged kids
- City Programs- Contact your city for a list of potential volunteer opportunities.
- Local churches- Churches always could use some help. You could use your organizing skills in the office, help with cleaning, work with kids on sundays or youth during the week, set up & take down chairs, get involved with the homeless ministry, etc.
- Retirement home- So many elderly people are isolated and alone. Share the love by visiting, eating lunch together, or if you’re have special skill like singing or entertaining you could share that with a very warm and receptive audience.
- Hospital- A variety of possibilities depending on your location, but you can visit people and bring a bit of joy into a bleak situation.
- Park service- If you love the outdoors you can help with maintaining trails, keeping parks clean or building new features in a park.
- Guide dog host- this takes some prep and training, but you can volunteer to help raise guide dog puppy. It helps others and you get to spend time with a very special pooch!
- Tutor- many kids struggle with subjects that may come easy to you. Give back by helping out once every week or so at a local school. Contact the district to sign up.
- Walking dogs- this is a job you could get paid for, but if you have an elderly person on your street, or a friend with a busy schedule this is a great volunteer opportunity. My friend is a runner, and during our most recent deployment she would run by my house and pick up my dog on her way into the forest for her training. This was huge for me because I had just had a baby and couldn’t give the dog a lot of exercise. I was so grateful!
- Homeless shelter- you can help by serving or making food, knowing you’re providing basic needs for someone.
- Salvation Army or Food Bank- any organization like this thrives on volunteers. Organize food, collect clothing (depending on needs and the set up of your local office)
- Library- put away books, read stories to kids…
- Send to deployed troops- You can send a letter or package to a deployed service member who may not typically receive anything from home.
- Help an elderly neighbor- as mentioned above with dog-walking, elderly neighbors often need extra help. You could do some yard work or help around the house, get groceries or just visit for a bit to lift their spirits.
- Become a tour guide- some local tourist spots need volunteers to help lead tours and guide visitors. If you’re a history buff or just love to help, check your local tourist attractions.
- Volunteer for a local event- Races, Food Festivals, and Fundraisers all need extra hands on deck to make their events work. The city or a private race company might have the info you need.
- Organize a fundraiser- If you’re feeling ambitious, organize a fundraiser for your favorite charity or non-profit. Your deployment will seem to fly when you are so busy with all the details of putting in on.
- Relay for life- Take part in a walk, stair climb, 24 hour exercise or other fundraiser where you get sponsors. You’ll meet people, get a workout, and help others as well. You also will meet some new neighbors if you ask them to sponsor you.
- Deliver for meals on wheels- Help carry food to those who can’t get out of the house.
- Nanny or babysit- You may know a family in need, or a friend who is struggling with deployment responsibilities. Offering a free night of babysitting is a huge blessing to a weary parent!
What other things help you to feel less lonely?