There are many volunteer opportunities to help those who are handicapped, but what if you're handicapped and you want to be the one volunteering to help others and your community? No problem. There are countless volunteer opportunities out there with workers needed in a variety of areas. Having a disability does not have to keep you from taking one (or many) of these opportunities.
If you're passionate about sports, look into the Special Olympics. Volunteers are needed at every level. That includes coaches, fans, scorekeepers, officials and a number of other roles as well. To get involved simply contact your local Special Olympics office [source: Special Olympics]. They'll work with you to find the most effective way for you to volunteer your time.
If you want to make a difference with children, you should look into volunteering for an after-school program in your area or, depending on the nature of your handicap, you may also be able to volunteer for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. If you can play a board game or take a kid to the movies, you can make a difference. Big Brothers Big Sisters is in need of quality volunteers now more than ever, especially men. You can visit their Web site or call (888) 412-BIGS to find a local agency [source: BBBS].
Perhaps you have a soft spot for animals. Why not volunteer at your local animal shelter? You may not be able to walk dogs or clean cages, but there are plenty of other ways you can make a difference. Every organization has paperwork and most do mailings as well. If you can stuff an envelope, you can volunteer. You could also help groom or simply spend time with cats or dogs at the shelter.
Perhaps you want a civic-minded project. You can volunteer for a political candidate or at the polls. Want to help patients or their families? You can check with your local hospital or nursing home and find out if they need any help. Do you have teaching experience? You could volunteer to teach English as a second language.
Something to keep in mind is that as a handicapped person you have a unique opportunity to help other handicapped people simply by talking with them and helping them adjust to life with a disability.
The list of ways you can volunteer is limited only by your imagination. Those mentioned in this article are only the tip of the iceberg. If you're not sure how or where you want to volunteer try using a Web site like volunteermatch.org. It can help you find volunteering opportunities in your local community [source: Volunteer Match]. President Obama recently launched the serve.gov Web site as well. By entering a keyword and zip code you can find a place to volunteer in no time [source: Serve].
If you're interested in learning more, check out the links on the next page.