(9 Minute Read) — There’s no denying that so much has transpired in 2020 and 2021, where we faced intense uncertainty, new challenges, and less connection, which all continue to impact how we feel. Time and again, we know that belonging and being part of a community heals.
Do you know that warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you make someone’s day, perform a random act of kindness, or spend a few hours of your day volunteering? It definitely feels heartwarming to offer your time and resources to someone other than yourself. In fact, a recent study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies has revealed that volunteering makes us happier.
Unitus’ Community Involvement
Not only does volunteering provide a sense of community connection, but it can also provide valuable life and leadership skills. At Unitus, we are passionate about giving back—socially and economically—to our local communities in which we operate. Therefore, opportunities to volunteer or get involved in our community are present year-round. Yes, even despite the pandemic! Recent community activities include teaming up with our credit union friends to clean up downtown Portland, a virtual team fundraising to bring light to the darkness of cancer, and packing back-to-school supplies for Vestal Elementary School. More to come this month and beyond, including packing holiday care packages with SnowCap and our Unitus Rose Festival Court Mentor Program.
(Unitus teamed up with other Northwest credit unions for SOLVE’s one-year anniversary of its “Downtown Portland Cleanup Day” initiative.)
(Team Unitus participated in the Schoolhouse Supplies Tools For Schools backpack filling event just in time for back-to-school season.)
(Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light The Night event went virtual again this year, but it didn’t stop Team Unitus from fundraising and going on our evening walk to build awareness + bring light to the darkness of cancer.)
‘Tis the Season for Giving Back
What are you doing to make a positive impact in the community? With the holidays and the New Year fast approaching, some of us may be seeking ways to shift our focus and to give back to our community. We can help with this goal. Here are various ways to get involved today, categorized into Unitus’ four giving areas: Arts & Culture, Financial Education, Health & Well-Being, Youth Development.
Arts & Culture
- Located in Gresham, El Programa Hispano’s mission is to advance racial equity and social justice through the power of Latinx roots, culture, and community. Volunteer your time or donate monetarily. Additionally, head on over to their wishlist where you can choose to donate vital items like backpacks, school supplies, diapers, and more.
- Milagro Theatre provides extraordinary Latino theatre, culture, and arts education experiences for the enrichment of all communities. Become a Portland volunteer at Milagro in your chosen area of expertise or set up a charitable gift.
- Pride Northwest’s mission is to encourage and celebrate the positive diversity of the LGBTQ+ communities, and to assist in the education of all people through the development of activities that showcase the history, accomplishments, and talents of these communities. One of the ways you can #gayitforward with PrideNW is through a direct donation. You may also sign up here to volunteer and be part of the awesome crew that make the Portland Pride Waterfront Festival & Parade and various other events throughout the year a success.
- Q Center’s mission is to provide safe spaces, community building and empowerment for the positive transformation of LGBTQ2SIA+ communities and allies in the Pacific Northwest. While Q Center is currently closed to the public due to the pandemic, you can still sign up to become a volunteer. Looking for a space to rent for your next event and want to support Q Center? Q Center’s multi-purpose spaces make an ideal location for virtually any type of event. Folks can also donate or create a peer-to-peer fundraising page.
Unitus is proud to host virtual and when possible, in person financial education workshops and classes throughout the year.
- Financial Beginnings partners with schools and community-based organizations to provide free, unbiased financial education and programming across Oregon. Become a trained volunteer presenter for Financial Beginnings today! You may also invest in your community’s future by donating.
- Junior Achievement of Oregon & SW Washington provides K-12 students the knowledge and skills they need to manage their money, plan for their futures, and realize opportunities for work and life. Have a passion for teaching? Sign up as a volunteer today! If time commitment is an issue, JA has numerous one-time event volunteer and sponsorship opportunities as well as a donation page. Give today to inspire a student’s tomorrow!
Health & Well-Being
- Brown Hope is a community solution for racial justice, creating connection with Black, Brown, and Indigenous leaders through the heart, mind, and voice to inspire collective healing. Folks can sign up as a volunteer for one of Brown Hope’s core programs or donate today.
- The Children’s Cancer Association (CCA) prescribes Joy through programs that create immediate and measurable improvement to the mental and emotional wellness of young patients. CCA plays a major role in selecting our Dream Come True Program recipients and we are grateful for the joy they create in children’s lives by granting VIP wishes. Want to spread joy and make a difference? Become a volunteer, donate gift cards, check out CCA’s wishlist where you can purchase commonly requested items, select CCA as your charity on AmazonSmile or Fred Meyer Rewards, create your own personal fundraising page, or donate monetarily. For a full list of ways to get involved, click here.
- Clackamas Service Center (CSC) is an inclusive “one-stop” community center for individuals and families seeking food relief and resources for improved health, dignity, and stability. CSC is gratefully accepting volunteer applicants for the following: grocery delivery drivers, food box packing volunteers, support roles in cooking, serving lunch, and sorting clothing donations. Only have a few hours and want to make a big impact? Another great way to support CSC is by coordinating a donation drive. Check out their In-Kind Donations page for much needed items today.
- The Good Neighbor Center (GNC) serves families experiencing housing insecurity with empathy and equity. Generous in-kind donations from the community are a main avenue for the GNC to directly uplift families at their shelter. Check out this page for GNC’s current needs list and consider donating. Folks can also help by assisting with Thanksgiving and holiday food boxes or adopting a family during the holiday season. Give them a call or contact their Volunteer Coordinator by clicking here to send an email.
- The Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber’s mission is to advance Latino economic and community vitality through business development, leadership, education and advocacy. Show your support for HMC’s programs by donating here.
- The Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization’s mission is to promote the integration of refugees, immigrants and the community at large into a self-sufficient, healthy and inclusive multi-ethnic society. IRCO regularly updates their volunteer page and also welcomes cash and in-kind donations. Purchase items from their Online Wish List and help new Oregonians build new beginnings.
- Latino Network‘s mission is to positively transform the lives of Latino youth, families, and communities throughout Portland. In 2021, we supported Latino Network through their fall Noche Bella event. Folks can get involved with LN through donations or volunteerism with any of their community programs.
- Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. Folks can get involved with LLS by donating or joining one of the events they host throughout the year. Light The Night is hosted every October, so if you want to join next year, be sure to add it to your calendar. Campaigning for this event begins in late summer.
- Meals on Wheels People – Meals on Wheels People’s mission is to enrich the lives of seniors, and assist them in maintaining independence, by providing nutritious food, human connections and social support. The organization offers a variety of ongoing volunteer opportunities, three of which can be done remotely on your own time. Deliver meals to homebound seniors, provide human connection for seniors through the Friendly Chats program, assist in wellness check calls, or donate today.
- SnowCap Community Charities is a philanthropic organization created to provide food, clothing, advocacy and other services to the poor. Folks can get involved in many ways with SnowCap, be it volunteering to pack and deliver care packages similar to what Unitus is doing as part of our Holiday Care Package sponsorship, helping organize and sort warehouse deliveries, stocking shelves, or helping with another one of their community programs. Simply fill out the form on this page to get started helping our community today!
- Founded in 1969, SOLVE’s mission is to bring Oregonians together to improve our environment and build a legacy of stewardship. Visit their events calendar to see a complete list of upcoming volunteer projects, which include in office volunteering, neighborhood cleanups, monthly Old Town cleanups, invasive removal of ivy, site maintenance, and native planting. Want to go big? Connect with your colleagues and take your team on a corporate volunteering activity. Of course, monetary donations are also always welcome. Events are always well-organized with proper tools and cleanup supplies provided by SOLVE.
- The Sunshine Division’s mission is to provide food and clothing to those in immediate need. Folks can get involved in many ways. Of particular need right now are volunteers to deliver food boxes, pack food boxes, and sort food donations. Sign up now via this page. Other ways to give back are to host a virtual food drive, fundraise on Sunshine Division’s behalf, or contribute financially. A gift of $50, for example, serves 68 nutritious meals to struggling families in our community.
- Clark County Food Bank is a regional food bank that distributes over 8 million pounds of food and 6.7 million meals a year. In order to fulfill their mission of alleviating hunger and its root causes, they require a team effort from the community! Ways to give include donating food, putting on a food drive with your business or organization, donating money, or volunteering your time and talents.
- Boys & Girls Club of Portland’s mission is to empower all young people, especially those who need us most, to discover their full potential as caring, engaged, responsible community members. Are you passionate about children’s well-being? With five (5) clubhouses in the Portland metro, there are plenty of opportunities to contribute your time and support the youth in our community through homework help, serving meals at the Kids Cafe, assisting with their food pantry, or general mission support. Get started by submitting your volunteer application today.
- Play It Forward’s (PIF) mission is to empower musicians and fans to make the world a better place. Donations of any amount are appreciated. You can also support PIF simply by sharing their artists’ projects on social media.
- Self Enhancement Inc. (SEI) is dedicated to guiding underserved youth to realize their full potential. Working with schools, families, and partner community organizations, SEI provides support, guidance, and opportunities to achieve personal and academic success. Donate today or complete this form to be contacted with upcoming volunteer opportunities.
- Schoolhouse Supplies’ mission is to support public education in the Portland area by providing free school supplies to students in need. Folks can get involved in many ways, be it individual or team volunteering to assist with data entry or organize donations, hosting an event to benefit Schoolhouse Supplies, or donating school supplies.
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If the global pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we all have the power to make a difference in our communities and to come together for the greater good. We hope this comprehensive list of nonprofits and ways to get involved will inspire you to connect with our shared communities. Be sure to share this blog post with like-minded friends and family members. Perhaps you can even give the gift of time and reconnect with loved ones by volunteering together!
About the author: Laine Carrillo
Laine Carrillo (she/they) joined Unitus as a Social Media Strategist in June 2021. She grew up in the Philippines before moving to the United States at thirteen, then received a BA in German and MA in Human Rights.
She belongs to the Asian and immigrant communities. Her experience working in human rights nonprofits includes social media content creation and management as well as grant writing.
When she is not crafting content or scrolling through social media apps, Laine enjoys reading, volunteering, and exploring the Pacific Northwest with her partner.