So many of the problems we face seem insurmountable. People become convinced that the choices they make and the actions that they can take as individuals won’t have any meaningful impact. I don’t believe that that is true for any of the world’s problems that we face and I can prove that is not true for shelter animals or homeless youth.
Let’s assume that you have your own family, a job, a home to take care of and feel that you do not have any extra time to volunteer in an animal shelter or take responsibility for the guidance of a homeless young person. With the limited time you have, is there still something you can give that would make an impact? You bet there is and here are some ideas to get you thinking.
For the animals, how about you try one of these
1. Foster kittens. Kittens are short-term fosters, are easy to adopt out and most need a home for just a few weeks until they’re big enough to be spayed or neutered. You can work with a shelter or rescue that will take you take them from you and place them for adoption in a retail location and your job is done. Fosters directly and immediately save lives.
2. If bringing kittens into your home is too much, how about doing a linen drive among your family and friends or at your workplace? You will directly impact the quality of life of an animal waiting in a shelter who would otherwise be sleeping on a tile floor or newspaper in a cage. It only takes one trip to drop them off and you’re done.
3. You can be an advocate. Speak up to your friends who are considering going to a breeder or buying an animal on the Internet. Tell them that they are unknowingly supporting keeping the parents of those puppies in cages with no access to the outdoors, no human contact and often without necessary vet care. Be nice, be firm, do your research and offer them options.
For at risk youth,
1. Can you become a remote mentor? Partner with a young person who needs guidance. Check in with each other by phone or email once or twice a week. You can help keep them on track and let them know that someone cares about what happens to them.
2. What about an evening of service with a few friends? Service is easier in pairs or groups. Do you know how to do anything that one of your parents taught you that you could pass on to a young person? A craft? How to cook a great dish for a crowd? Young people living in a shelter would love to spend an evening having a caring adult pass along some family wisdom. You pick the night. Everybody can give one evening.
3. Have a drive to collect professional clothing so that young people have something appropriate to wear for interviews. Strive for a variety of sizes with everything in good condition – something you would wear yourself. More than once, we have witnessed our young volunteers wearing shoes that are too big and pants that cover their feet because the shelter did not have a sufficient selection of interview appropriate clothes for them.
Do not let yourself sink into the belief that what you do does not make a difference. Remind yourself that, if everyone did just one thing, the world would be a happier and more comfortable place for everyone.