As a family member, you are a trusted supporter for your family member with I/DD. You can help your family member identify places he or she wants to volunteer, address any challenges that arise as he or she volunteers, provide support and encouragement, and celebrate a job well done.
On this page, you will find resources that you can use to support your family member to find a volunteer activity or position in your community.
Help your Family Member Make a Volunteer Plan
Making a plan can help your family member find a volunteer position that matches his or her interests and goals. To get started planning, work with your family member to complete My Volunteer Vision. This document can help your family member express what he or she wants out of volunteering and activities that he or she may want to do. Once your family member completes this, reach out to the people listed as trusted supporters. Together, you all can work together to find volunteer opportunities in your community that fit with your family member’s vision and goals. You can download My Volunteer Vision.
It is possible that your family member may volunteer somewhere and not like the position or not feel comfortable there. If this happens, try to encourage your family member by sharing times you have been in similar situations and how you improved the situation. And, if your family member wants to find a new volunteer activity, work together and with your team to identify other matches in the community!
Help Your Family Member Search for a Volunteer Opportunity
There are many volunteer databases that you and your family member can use to find opportunities in your community. These sites will search for volunteer opportunities based on the type of volunteer activity, location, date, and hours of service required. Schedule a few hours to review these sites together and to get your family member’s feedback on available opportunities.
If your family member does not find a position that he or she is interested in, consider helping him or her reach out to groups in the community that he or she likes and would be interested in volunteering with.
Use the Buddy System to Break the Ice
A great way to get started volunteering and get to know a volunteering location is to go with a friend. If your family member feels nervous about volunteering, having a trusted family member or friend around may make him or her feel more comfortable. If the location has expressed nervousness or lack of familiarity supporting volunteers with I/DD, bringing a buddy will give the volunteer location an opportunity to observe, ask questions, and learn better what types of support-– if any-– your family member may need. Once your family member is comfortable with the opportunity, work with your family member, the buddy, and the volunteer group to identify a natural support (e.g., another volunteer) who can provide reassurance so that your family member can volunteer on his or her own if he or she chooses to do so.
What Else Can I Do?
Check with your local chapter of The Arc to learn more about other local volunteer opportunities you may want to participate in!