Starting Local

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I started looking up different global volunteering opportunities long before I was able to actually participate in one, so I had to find a good medium to curb my eagerness to jump ship before I was ready.

 

That’s when I looked for programs a little closer to home. Now I know living in a big city makes searching for opportunities easier, but I feel like you can find a program almost anywhere in the world. It might be delivering food to the elderly or helping clean up after a fundraiser. No matter what the job may be you’ll always be helping someone or something in need…..and that feels amazing!

 

Venice boardwalk

 

Earth Day festival

 

I first started to look for day volunteer jobs. My work schedule can get a little crazy where we are working 80+ hours a week. A lot of times I couldn’t spare even a second because I was so busy playing catch up and getting ready for the week to come.

 

Day volunteer jobs were perfect for me. One day here and there I could do. I was prepared to donate that one day, and I did’t feel overwhelmed because I knew it was coming long in advance and took care of my loose ends beforehand.

 

I found the Earth Day festival posting just by googling volunteering in Los Angeles. From there I was directed to a few sites where I was able to narrow it down to what I was looking for.

 

The Earth Day festival was perfect! It was a small outdoor festival held in Venice beach to help educate the community about the damages humans are creating to the Earth and what we can do to lessen our carbon footprint. How could I pass it up?

 

Each volunteer was required to sign up for a 4 hour shift. After that, you were welcome to stay and enjoy the festival. All I had to do was help set up some pop ups for the different booths and hang the signs. Done!

 

Then I was free to wander around and meet some great people working to heal our planet. I had reiki performed on me for the first time. I learned about chem trails (scary!). And I talked to a gentleman who rescues exotic animals being illegally traded. Probably why I want to work at a sanctuary in Indonesia that rescues illegally traded wildlife.

 

puente hills

 

Puente Hills Habitat Authority

 

Once I got into a rhythm, I was able to open up to the idea of volunteering more frequently. I had grown to love hiking in the Angeles National Forest, so I started looking for volunteer jobs in any of the mountain ranges surrounding Los Angeles. Puente Hills Habitat Authority caught my attention. They didn’t seem as far as the Santa Monica mountains and the Angeles Forest, and they allowed a really open schedule.

 

I put in an application and started orientation soon after. Even though I had to go in early on a Saturday for the various orientation classes, I really did enjoy them. I learned a lot about being out in wilderness and survival. They even supplied us with the training and fees for our CPR certification. I never used it, but I liked knowing I could help a person in distress.

 

After 10 hours of training, we were given our packs and polos and ready to set out and patrol some trails. I had never hiked in the Puente Hills Reserve, but I love finding new trails to take my dog (who was an honorary trail patrol member).

 

Habitat Authority owns almost half of 4000 acres of public space in the Puente Hills. There mission is to acquire all of the 4000 acres and preserve it before we have little to no land left. They don’t have the funding to employ dozens of rangers, so they ask fellow hikers to help patrol the trails. Pretty easy when you already enjoy hiking.

 

They allowed us to work whatever hours we wanted (as long as they were in daylight hours) and wherever we wanted within the park. I grew quite fond of a few of their trails.

 

I never really came across anything crazy. Mostly vandalism. I will never understand hiking all the way out there to spray paint a tree. Why poison a tree to begin with let alone a tree that you have to hike 3 miles uphill to get to? Graffiti and trash were always my common offenders when patrolling the trails.

 

It felt good being able to lend a hand and help with the Habitat Authority’s quest to save our open land. Sadly I haven’t been able to make it over to Puente Hills in a long time, but I appreciate everything that was taught to me while I was there. I hope they do end up owning all of the open land. Somebodies got to save it!

 

beach cleanup

 

Beach Cleanup

 

The last few volunteer jobs I have done were beach cleanups. I’ve been trying to keep my SCUBA skills up to date, and the group that I dive with is Eco Dive Center. You can probably guess why I chose them. Not only do they offer dive certification classes, but they also teach conservation and being more responsible while diving.

 

Each year they would host multiple beach cleanups, and I happened to have some free time for a few this last year.

 

The first one was an afternoon cleanup with a nice bonfire and hula dancers after. It made for a nice summer evening after just a couple hours of cleanup.

 

But the cleanup I had the most fun at was held on Costal Cleanup Day. On this day, divers were permitted to go down near the piers and explore while cleaning up all the trash that had made it’s way over the railing…….and there was a lot!

 

Almost a hundred countries worldwide and nearly 700,000 volunteers pitched in to clean up our waterways on that day. You know what they found? Tens of millions of pounds of trash! That’s insane!!!

 

I couldn’t believe how much trash was polluting our oceans and waterways. Now I know to look for beach cleanups anytime I have the opportunity. Trash is a big problem and we should do our part to help cut it down.

 

It’s unfortunate there are people who don’t see the harm in littering, but we can work together and educate the masses about the importance in recycling and disposing of trash properly.

 

Do you have a story about your experience volunteering in your community? Please share your story with us in the comments below.

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