Want to Feel Good? Volunteer This Summer

Want to Feel Good? Volunteer This Summer

Summer is feel-good season — especially in Madison: Warm temperatures, festivals and fairs, lakes and trails, live music and sporting events. If you really want to feel good this summer, though, consider volunteering. Fewer people are giving their time to worthy causes these days, as Forbes.com reported in March:

Despite its benefits, both to communities and individual volunteers, people are volunteering less. Formal volunteering is down seven percentage points, reaching the lowest rate in nearly three decades, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and AmeriCorps.

This needs to be a sounding alarm to everyone, not just nonprofits. Volunteers are the backbone of democracy and civil society. Without the belief that we can make a difference, strengthen our communities and solve society’s toughest issues, what do we have to work toward and inspire us?

With that in mind, here are four organizations I support:

Dane County Humane Society: DCHS does more than pair pets with owners. Its staff can help search for lost pets, care for a wild animal in need, assist with surrendering a pet and provide community outreach and education programs. Volunteer opportunities include serving as an adoption assistant, a bather and groomer, a visitation volunteer, a canine companion, a thrift store assistant, a companion foster parent and more.

Clyde’s Closet: Another pet-centric organization, Clyde’s Closet is a free pet pantry in Whitewater that offers a variety of items to support pets and their owners. Founded in honor of — and named after — an 8-year-old pit bull mix surrendered to a Whitewater rescue in 2023 and adopted by Mandy Lewis, Clyde’s Closet always can use donations (especially, according to recent Facebook posts, cat food and cat litter).

Sunshine Place: Based in Sun Prairie, this nonprofit organization performs about 260 “acts of kindness per day,” according to its website. Thanks to community partners and volunteers, Sunshine Place provides food, clothing, beds and other vital social services. It is 100% community-supported and relies on donations and grants. In addition to giving financially and donating food, clothing and other goods, volunteer opportunities include client shopping, food recovery and stocking, and home delivery.

Tellurian: This Madison-based recovery center specializes in treating individuals struggling with drug and alcohol addiction or mental illnesses, serving more than 9,000 people annually, according to Tellurian’s website. Patients receive psychological and medical treatment simultaneously, but many have no health insurance and are unable to pay for their treatment. That’s where donations come in, and they directly strengthen the facility’s efforts to provide individualized treatment.

All of these organizations and countless others in and around Dane County could use your help — whether it be your time, talent or treasure. Consider volunteering in some way. You’ll feel good. I promise.

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