By Ian Morton | Profiles in Advocacy
Just yesterday, I got to go on my annual Dining Out For Life “date” with the inimitable Elaine Graybill, an event that always reminds me that it isn’t just what’s in our pockets that can help nonprofits move forward, but also what is in our hearts.
The “ambassadors” at each participating DOFL business have an opportunity to really elevate the event and make patrons feel great about participating.
As San Diego’s spring weather gets progressively more beautiful, I think it’s a great time to take stock of some of our organizations and programs that could use our talents, as volunteers.
San Diego LGBT Pride: If ever there was a time to “represent” for our city, it is on Pride weekend!
Pulling off this huge event takes a strong, strategically thinking staff, and willing volunteers, to put a friendly and dedicated face to San Diego, not only for our community members, but also vendors, entertainers and out-of-town visitors.
There are volunteer positions available both before and during the festival, for folks of all ages and ability levels.
Mama’s Kitchen and Special Delivery: Food insecurity for those facing health challenges due to HIV/AIDS or cancer is very real, and both of these local organizations are strong allies to our community in fighting this issue.
Without an amazing volunteer team to help prepare and deliver nutritious meals to these homebound individuals, not only would they experience poor nutrition, but they might also go days or weeks without seeing a friendly face.
Nutrition and positive interactions are such vital ingredients to regaining and maintaining health, and both Special Delivery and Mama’s Kitchen are helping San Diegans “live again.”
San Diego Food Bank: Speaking of helping feed San Diego, the San Diego Food Bank is a great place for families and youth organizations to lend a hand.
Volunteers of 11 years of age or older are welcome, so if you are a parent, scout leader, or Big Brother/Sister, this could be an excellent opportunity to start teaching lessons on how we give back.
Shifts last about three hours in the warehouse and groups can sign up for shifts together.
I Love a Clean San Diego (ILACSD): Beautiful beaches, parks and bays are an important part of why San Diego is “America’s Finest City,” and keeping our city clean are the great folks at ILACSD!
There are monthly opportunities to participate all throughout San Diego County, from storm drain stenciling, to canyon and beach cleanups and recycling events.
So if your passion includes sustainable, pollution-free living, ILACSD is the organization for you.
San Diego Public Library: Be a part of a team of thousands of volunteers who assist the city’s workforce to enhance services to the public.
Volunteers support special populations; help with the success of various environmental, library, neighborhood youth and adult programs; assist with parks and beach beautification projects; and help employees build safe, healthy, beautiful communities.
On a personal note and as an avid reader myself, I especially want to highlight the READ/San Diego Adult Literacy Program. I can’t imagine life without books, and this is my plan for summer volunteering.
San Diego LGBT Community Center and North County LGBTQ Resource Center: Of course, our list would not be complete without the LGBTQ centers that serve San Diego County.
Whether in central San Diego or North County, our centers provide a multitude of services and this could not be done without our community coming together to volunteer.
From serving at individual events, helping with AIDS Walk or Dining Out For Life, or being the friendly face who makes a first impression on clients coming through the door, you can be a part of what makes San Diego’s LGBTQ community great.
I hope this inspires each and every one of you to be a part of San Diego’s rich nonprofit and advocacy tapestry.
There are amazing opportunities available throughout the county that allow you to help others while learning a little about what you are capable of in the process. Happy volunteering!
—Ian D. Morton is s freelance grant writer and the producer of Y.E.S. San Diego, an LGBTQ youth empowerment conference. To nominate an individual or nonprofit for this column, please email the information to firstname.lastname@example.org.