Volunteer Opportunities in Columbus, Ohio: Improving Mental Health While Giving Back

July 5, 2024 by Steve Suntala

Many people in cities across the world have difficulty finding adequate health care, secure housing, and nutritious food–Columbus is no different. Communities like yours are in serious need of volunteers who can help bridge the gap between underprivileged families and necessary resources. 

Interested in donating your time? Read on for information about local organizations seeking help with volunteer opportunities!

Why Should I Consider Volunteering?

Volunteerism is generally associated with the betterment of communities–and for good reason! However, giving back also benefits you as an individual. Indeed, research supports the positive effect of community involvement on mental, physical, and social health. 

Studies show volunteering increases quality of life, self-empowerment, motivation, and connectedness. Some experts even recommend such activities as interventions for depression, as they help shift an internal self-focus to a people-oriented mindset

In summary, volunteering is an often under-appreciated opportunity for individuals of all ages, demographics, and backgrounds to gather together for mutual growth and enrichment. 

Here are just a few reasons why pursuing volunteer opportunities is beneficial for everyone:

  • Increased happiness
  • New friendships
  • Skill development
  • Having fun
  • Reduced stress
  • Boosted confidence
  • Finding purpose in life

Volunteer Opportunities in Columbus to Explore

Columbus is ripe with various avenues of community service for residents to explore. No matter your interest, non-profit organizations are in need of additional hands throughout the year. 

There, you can develop new friendships, expand your skill sets, and improve your mental health while fostering neighborhood alliances and helping others receive essential services.  

1. Animal Care

Many shelters are overcrowded by pets and strays. Unfortunately, their caregivers are often stretched thin by a lack of employees, resources, and supplies. Simply offering companionship to the animals can make a considerable difference in both their lives and the operation as a whole. You can also contribute food and toys if your schedule is fully booked!

Check out these volunteer opportunities for animal lovers:

  • Pets Without Parents: Consider fostering a pet or donating your time to shelter work. Make a difference in the lives of cats and dogs for an immediate pick-me-up. 
  • Columbus Humane: Columbus Humane has many volunteer opportunities for any pet lover. Interact with cuddly dogs, cats, and rabbits for a truly memorable community service experience.
  • Franklin County Dog Shelter: Interested in dog walking, grooming, or training? The Franklin County Dog Shelter is actively seeking volunteers to assist in daily operations and socialization.
  • CHA Animal Shelter: CHA is dedicated to ensuring every dog and cat finds their forever home with responsible owners. Various volunteer positions are available, including in-shelter caretakers, communication committee members, and foster pet parents.
  • Ohio House Rabbit Rescue: Many of OHRR’s residents were abused by previous owners and must learn to trust humans again. Help the cutest bunnies feel loved and experience an immediate mood boost in the process.

2. Health Care Providers

As with our animal shelters, hospitals across the country are struggling with a labor shortage. You can help mitigate this problem by volunteering to help with patient transportation, operational tasks, clerical work, or special events. Any support is greatly appreciated, and those interested in the healthcare industry can expand their skills with hands-on career experience in the process. 

Here are a few opportunities for those interested in providing health care:

  • OhioHealth: Escort patients and visitors, work at the gift shop, help with clerical support, or connect with hospice families at OhioHealth. Offering your time and a listening ear can be the highlight of many patients’ days. 
  • Nationwide Children’s Hospital: Teens are invited to assist hospital staff in various ways throughout the hospital. Here, they can develop self-awareness and efficacy skills while giving back to their community.
  • Mount Carmel: Volunteers of all ages have the opportunity to interact with patients and cultivate meaningful relationships at Mount Carmel. Staff work with each volunteer to determine where their skills will be best utilized.

3. Neighborhood Alliance

We all want to see our communities flourish. However, not everyone has access to even the most essential daily necessities like food and stable housing. What better way to support local development than volunteering at soup kitchens, homeless shelters, or other resource centers? 

Your efforts can help underserved populations find the care they need for overall wellness and stability. 

Below are Columbus-based community service opportunities:

    • LifeCare Alliance: Put on your chef hat in the kitchen or rev up your engines for meal deliveries. Volunteer opportunities are available any day of the week for those with tight schedules.
    • The Columbus Dream Center: Assist those in need by serving meals, tutoring students, and providing daily necessities. 
    • Andrew’s House: Andrew’s House provides residents with free regular meals, yard work services, and even legal assistance. No matter your skills, you can help better the lives of innumerable people.
    • Worthington Food Pantry & Resource Center: Be a “Homebound Hero” or help the “Pack and Bag Brigade” and meet like-minded volunteers with a passion for giving back to their communities. 

4. Teaching & Mentoring

Those passionate about education have the chance to improve the lives of children in Columbus. Whether acting as a tutor, playmate, or mentor, various organizations are accepting volunteer applications. 

Explore these mentorship volunteer opportunities in Columbus:

  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio: Endless “Littles” are hoping to match with a caring “Big” like you! Develop a meaningful connection with a child by going on adventures, playing games, or simply chatting with them. 
  • TriVillage Mentor League: Teens can help tutor children in grades K-3 at Stevenson Elementary or Greensview Elementary. TVML also offers college scholarships to two volunteers every year!

5. Minority Outreach

No one should feel left behind by their community. Help reach those who come from broken homes, live with disabilities, or have histories of substance use. Kindness can reignite a spark lost to adversities–all you have to do is take the first step and show you care. 

Here are a few avenues of minority support to consider:

  • Brown Girls Mentoring: Become a mentor to youth and make a difference in their lives and the community. 
  • Special Skills Sports: Be a source of light for individuals living with special needs and disabilities. Camp mentors can help run skill stations, set up events, and handle registration.
  • African American Male Wellness Agency: Aid in supporting underserved men in Columbus at AAMWA. Help members learn skills in areas of fatherhood, financial wellness, and mental health self-care.

6. Veteran Support

Veterans are at risk of severe mental health illnesses, including PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Many also have limited access to physical health care and reliable meal services. By volunteering with veteran-oriented organizations, these individuals can regain a sense of independence, human connection, and self-confidence. 

Here are a few ways to offer support to veterans in Columbus:

  • VA Central Ohio Health Care: Volunteers have ample opportunities to interact with veterans, whether through wheelchair escorting, pharmacy care, art projects, or coffee service. Operational work is also available via filing, answering phone calls, or driving patients to various appointments.
  • Honor Flight Columbus: The Honor Flight Columbus organization is always seeking help with administrative tasks, and guardianship. 
  • VFW Department of Ohio: Find true connections and foster appreciation for our service members at the VFW. Here, you can assist with important daily tasks like physical activities, writing letters, chapel services, and companionship. 

7. Outdoor Activities

Outdoor and garden enthusiasts have a space in the volunteer world, too! Parks don’t upkeep themselves, so consider spending a day beautifying your neighborhood with like-minded people. Not only do you get the opportunity to soak in the sun, but families and nature lovers alike have a safe space to unwind and stay active.

For those interested in physically active volunteer opportunities, check out these organizations:

  • Dreams on Horseback: Volunteers with or without horse riding experience are welcome to register as a volunteer with Dreams on Horseback. Help enrich the lives of those with disabilities, veterans, and youth with equine-therapy and horse-assisted vocational training.

8. Handy Man Services

Houses require regular maintenance, but some individuals do not have the resources or physical capabilities to make repairs and complete household chores. If you have electrical, plumbing, construction, or similar training, you can make use of your experience by helping folks tackle the many challenges of homeownership. 

Those with handiness skills can check out these community service opportunities:

  • Modcon Living: Whatever your skill set, Modcon Living has a spot for you at their organization. Help with electrical repair and other home projects for those in need across the Columbus area.
  • Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging: Among their numerous other resources, COAAA assists older and disabled populations with home repairs. Make the most of your knowledge and experience by providing service to over 15,000 people in need.
  • Habitat for Humanity: One of the greatest gifts you can someone is a safe, secure place to call home. Help those in need achieve homeownership by assisting in construction projects, warehouse work, or committee service.

9. Artistic Expression

The arts can be an integral part of any community, both for human interaction and mental wellness. Engaging in creative outlets increases serotonin levels, abstract thinking skills, and positive emotions, making for an all-encompassing approach to sustained community wellness. 

Be a part of something bigger–reach out to your local museum, art therapy clinic, or elementary school to see how your artistic skills can be of use. 

Musicians and artists alike can pursue some of the volunteer opportunities below:

  • Cultural Arts Center: Find your people at the Cultural Arts Center. Volunteer at events, activities, and exhibitions for an exciting and unique experience. 
  • Wexner Center for the Arts: Lead tours, welcome visitors, or assist with art-related education programs at the WEX. Everyone is welcome to join the team of creatives working together to better the community through artistic expression and exploration. 

Combining the Benefits of Volunteering With Ketamine Therapy

While volunteering can help improve mental health, therapy is often a critical aspect of feeling at your best. If you’ve struggled to find an approach that fits your unique needs, ketamine infusions may be an option. 

New Pathways specializes in providing patients with quality, empathetic care. You don’t have to deal with treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, or PTSD alone. Contact our clinic for a consultation to see how ketamine therapy may fit into your treatment plan.

Interested in a free consultation on ketamine treatments? If you’d like to pursue this journey, we have locations in Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati.

At New Pathways Clinic our heartfelt mission is to establish a holistic mental wellness campus that touches the lives of individuals in the greater Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati regions. We are dedicated to combining state-of-the-art mental health treatments, like Ketamine therapy infusions and Spravato nasal spray, with the expertise of compassionate mental health professionals to treat depression, anxiety, PTSD, migraines, and bipolar disorder.

Our unwavering commitment drives us to continuously evolve and adapt as the scientific landscape of ketamine research expands and diversifies, leading to innovative mental health treatments. We are determined to pave the way for a healthier future for Cleveland, central Ohio, and southern Ohio.

New Pathways Clinic also offers Semaglutide & Tirzepatide weight-loss shots, ketamine-assisted psychotherapy, and  ketamine/Spravato support groups for patients.

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