Many grief counselors advise that one of the best ways to work through grief, especially during the holidays, is to keep busy -- to get involved with life again especially by volunteering your time to help others.
I know a woman who was grieving deeply after the loss of her husband. Having always loved horses, she decided to volunteer at a local therapeutic horsemanship program.
This program provided people with mental or physical disabilities the opportunity to enhance the quality of their lives through learning to ride and take care of horses.
She worked as a "walker" steadying the riders who had difficulty in riding, and helped to groom and feed the horses.
Being around these gentle animals and seeing how the program helped people with disabilities gave her a new hope and vision for a better future.
To find out if there is such a program in your area, visit the PATH website, or call 800-369-RIDE (7433).
There are many other organizations that will welcome volunteers no matter how much time you can commit whether it is an hour a week, or a few days a month. A recent article in the December AARP Bulletin listed some interesting volunteer activities which offer a wide variety of activities:
America's Second Harvest is the nation's largest domestic hunger relief organization. It feeds hungry people by soliciting and distributing food and other grocery products through food banks and rescue programs. It is worthwhile for another reason -- it helps to eliminate the waste of food. There are currently ten centers in New York State. To find out if one of them is near you, visit Second Harvest's website.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is the country's oldest and largest youth mentoring organization which serves more than 200,000 children and youth annually nationwide. To contact them, look in your local phone directory, call 866-276-2447 or visit their website to find a local center.
Habitat for Humanity is dedicated to eliminating poverty housing. To find an affiliate near you, check your local phone listing or visit their website. In addition to site work in this country, they offer one to three week tours overseas in their Global Village program.
Meals on Wheels Association of America depends on volunteers to deliver nutritious meals and to maintain social contact with older persons who are homebound. To locate the nearest program, visit their website.
National Mentoring Partnership is a resource for people interested in becoming mentors to young people. For information on mentoring and local programs visit their website or call 888-432-6368.
Points of Light Foundation mobilizes volunteers to work in communities through a network of 500 volunteer centers nationwide. Call 800-865-8683 or visit their website.
In addition, some newspapers publish "volunteer matchmaker" columns which give information on local opportunities such as county offices for the aging, theater groups, animal shelters, etc., which can use help.
Bonnie L. McCullough, CAE
Former NYSFDA Executive Director