Here in the Volunteer State, we don't call it "Southern hospitality" for nothing. And as truly dedicated Memphians know, those warm feelings inside don't just come from a piece of homemade sweet-potato pie.
One of the most gratifying ways to enjoy our community is by giving back to it. Many Mid-Southerners depend on the daily efforts of our city's volunteers to survive. While the following listing does not include every philanthropic organization in Memphis, you're bound to find an opportunity that will satisfy that sweet spot for service.
From improving the environment to teaching the illiterate, from feeding the homeless to walking a stray dog, the possibilities to lend a helping hand are limitless.
Volunteer Coordinating Organizations
Hands on Memphis
Hands On Memphis involves, commits, and engages volunteers to make a difference in our community through innovative service. HOM is part of the international Hands On Network and leads flexible volunteer projects at area nonprofit organizations on weekends, evenings, and lunch hours to fit most any schedule. Hands On Memphis serves as a liaison between nonprofit agencies and schools to assist the organization in achieving its goals and missions.
Metropolitan Inter-Faith Organization (MIFA)
MIFA is a community-service organization founded in 1968 that addresses needs in the Memphis community. Its 14 programs tackle homelessness, education, nutrition, and legal and financial concerns for more than 60,000 people each year. MIFA's programs give individuals a chance to live independently with hope and dignity. MIFA depends on support from the community for volunteer time, leadership, and donations.
Volunteer Memphis' goal is to connect people with opportunities to serve. Volunteer Memphis develops, promotes, and supports volunteerism in the Memphis area. The organization features training opportunities related to volunteering. Special programs include the corporate volunteer program, summer volunteer programs for teens, and group volunteering for single adults. The organization publishes a monthly calendar of volunteer activities, and its Web site has a searchable database of volunteer opportunities with more than 250 local agencies.
Memphis Shelby County Humane Society
Your landlord or spouse doesn't approve of pets? Just an animal lover at heart? Become a volunteer dog walker or cat petter. Assist the Humane Society, which rescues injured and abused animals, by helping groom, feed, and exercise dogs and cats.
House of Mews
House of Mews is a nonprofit shelter dedicated to the rescue and care of abandoned cats and kittens in Memphis. It educates the public on the humane treatment of cats, reports and prevents animal abuse, and encourages respect for the rights of animals. Volunteers are needed to work in the shop with adoptions and retail and to work directly with the cats as a caretaker.
Court Appointed Special Advocates
A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a trained community volunteer appointed by a court to represent the best interests of abused or neglected children whose placement is being determined by the court. With the support of a program director and staff social workers, volunteers make an in-depth investigation into a child's case, produce a written report, and make recommendations to the judge or referee on the child's behalf.
Exchange Club Family Center
The Exchange Club Family Center provides prevention, therapeutic intervention, and educational and support programs for children and families who are dealing with the traumatic effects of child abuse and domestic violence. Volunteers are needed for child care, administrative tasks, and special projects.
Youth Villages is the Mid-South's largest provider of treatment and care for troubled children and their families. Volunteers serve as mentors, tutor in academics or job skills, assist with special projects or fund-raising efforts, provide administrative assistance, and teach a talent or skill.
Clovernook Center for the Blind & Visually Impaired
Clovernook Center for the Blind & Visually Impaired works to foster independence and promote the highest quality of life among those who are blind or visually impaired. Volunteers are needed to help transport clients, perform administrative duties, help with fund-raising events, and perform a wide array of meaningful tasks.
Memphis Center for Independent Living
The Memphis Center for Independent Living is a disability rights and advocacy organization. Volunteers are needed to make phone calls, prepare a quarterly newsletter, and assist the staff, most of whom have disabilities.
Mid-South Association for Retarded Citizens
The purpose of Mid-South Association for Retarded Citizens (Mid-South Arc) is to empower people with developmental disabilities and mental retardation to achieve their full potential. The Arc has a wide variety of volunteer opportunities, including advocacy, case management, job readiness instructors, mentors, and Family Support Service program staff.
Raymond Skinner Recreation Center
The Raymond Skinner Recreation Center is a community-based facility offering programs to ensure that people with disabilities have an opportunity to participate in public leisure services and recreation. Volunteers can get involved in a variety of special programs, such as the Reach-Out and After-School programs, and are also needed for the Summer Camp and weekly Friday-night dances.
WYPL Talking Library
WYPL FM 89.3 provides the visually impaired and physically handicapped in Shelby County timely access to the news and other printed information over the radio. Volunteers read magazine and newspaper stories on the air.
Church Health Center / Hope and Healing
The Church Health Center provides health care for uninsured working people and their families. All types of health professionals are needed to staff the clinic on a volunteer basis during evenings and Saturdays. The center is also seeking dependable, dedicated volunteers to make phone calls, do clerical work, sort medicine, and perform other tasks.
Crisis Center of Memphis
Volunteers receive training on how to respond and provide support to runaways and abused persons, as well as how to handle overdoses, loneliness, and other crises. The Crisis Center is a 24-hour crisis hot line, supported by Memphis Family Services, Inc. Volunteers must agree to work at least two shifts per month.
(274-7477; suicide hotline 1-800-SUICIDE)
Friends for Life -- Aloysius Home
Friends for Life provides information about AIDS and support services for those with AIDS and their families. Opportunities for volunteers include cooking, serving, and cleaning up after the Feast for Friends, a bimonthly client dinner, and filling client orders from the food pantry. Volunteers additionally assist with fund-raising and special events.
(272-0855 ext. 233, www.friendsforlifecorp.org)
Hope House is the only agency in Tennessee that provides much-needed day care and social services to the growing number of children and their families impacted by HIV/AIDS. All children at Hope House have a parent who is infected with HIV/AIDS or who has died from the disease. At least one-third of the children who attend Hope House are infected themselves and were born with the disease. Hope House assists with activities, recreation, companionship, and emotional support for affected children and their parents. Volunteers and interns are needed in a variety of tasks, including classroom assistance, mentoring, administrative work, and fund-raising.
(272-2702 ext. 216 or ext. 206, www.hopehousedaycare.org)
National Foundation for Transplants
The National Foundation for Transplants (NFT) assists those needing a transplant to create a future of hope. NFT provides financial assistance, fund-raising expertise, and advocacy to organ and tissue transplant patients nationwide. Volunteer opportunities include general office work and help in planning and carrying out local fund-raising events.
Hunger and Homelessness
Calvary Street Ministry
This ministry works with the homeless to help them discover the tools they need to become positive contributors to society. The ministry provides an alcohol and drug program and a drop-in center for the mentally ill. Volunteers are needed to visit and interact with people at the drop-in center with programs like board games, activities, and arts and crafts. Volunteers are also needed on weekday mornings to interview the homeless.
Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis
Habitat builds homes for families who could not otherwise afford them, in partnership with each family. There are opportunities for individuals, businesses, faith-based organizations, and community groups to assist. Interns and volunteers help with fund-raising, construction, and clerical work, and participate in other activities.
(761-4771 ext. 215, www.memphishabitat.com)
The Food Bank (previously Memphis Food Bank)
The Food Bank provides food and other grocery items to over 300 charitable feeding programs in 32 counties throughout the Mid-South. In its 25th year of operation, The Food Bank runs three Kids Cafe sites and the Prepared and Perishable Food Recovery Program, and in addition sponsors the Feed the Need program in local grocery stores. Volunteers are needed to assist with special events, serve at Kids Cafe sites, sort and pack food items, and perform clerical duties.
Many groups throughout the city operate volunteer-run soup kitchens, where those in need can obtain a good meal. Among them:
Crossway Church (388-8515, 2633 Altruria, 38134)
Emmanuel Episcopal Center (523-2617, 604 St. Paul, 38126)
Feast for Friends (274-0855, 1384 Poplar, 38104)
First Presbyterian Church (525-5619, 166 Poplar, 38103)
First Unitarian Church (526-8631, 292 W. Virginia, 38103)
FirstWorks (526-8228, 204 N. 2nd, 38105)
Friends for Life, Aloysius Home (274-8321, 28 N. Claybrook, 38104)
Highland Heights United Methodist Church (458-5966, 3476 Summer, 38122)
Holy Community United Methodist Church (523-2485, 602 Looney, 38107)
Memphis Union Mission (526-8403, 383 Poplar, 38105)
Mid-South Peace and Justice Center (725-4990, 1000 S. Cooper, 38104)
Neighborhood Christian Center, Golden Leaf Baptist Church (327-0900, 1439 N. Hollywood, 38108)
St. John's United Methodist Church (726-4104, 1207 Peabody, 38104)
St. Luke's United Methodist Church (452-6262, 480 S. Highland, 38111)
St. Mary's Catholic Church (522-9420, 155 Market, 38105)
St. Patrick's Catholic Church (527-2542, 277 S. 4th, 38126)
Society of St. Vincent DePaul (274-2137, 123 N. Cleveland, 38104)
United Methodist Neighborhood Center (323-4993, 3000 Walnut Grove, 38111)
Literacy and Education
Memphis Literacy Council
Volunteers are needed to help with the Council's adult-learning program. Volunteers can teach classes, work in the computer lab, and pair with students for private tutoring. Tutor-training workshops are held once a month.
Neighborhood Christian Center
The center focuses on tutor and mentor programs for children K-12 in low-income neighborhoods. Volunteers gain opportunities to tutor a student or help with homework for an hour and 15 minutes a week. Volunteers are needed to assist with tasks such as sorting clothes, data entry, telephone calls, filing, and assistance with special events.
Shelby County Prison -- Division of Corrections
The Shelby County Division of Corrections encourages the rehabilitative process for incarcerated men and women, providing opportunities for a more productive life upon release. Their strategy is to provide a learning atmosphere to teach inmates proper life skills: how to make decisions, setting goals, financial planning, and continuing education. Through a variety of volunteer programs, inmates are provided with the essential tools to prevent them from being repeatedly incarcerated. Volunteers assist with educational programs, GED tutoring, and the Time to Read programs in the county prison.
Streets Ministry provides services such as tutoring, Bible study, weekend and summer camps, computer training, and religious education to children and adolescents from low-income neighborhoods. Volunteers are needed to tutor children and adolescents, teach computer skills, and participate in club meetings.
Alzheimer's Adult Day Services, Inc.
This adult day services program for Alzheimer's patients provides a safe and stimulating social environment for participants in an effort to help maintain a maximum level of functioning. Volunteers assist clients with daily group activities and provide one-on-one interaction as needed.
St. Peter Villa
St. Peter Villa is a nonprofit nursing home and rehabilitation center that is nonsectarian but supported by the Catholic Diocese of Memphis. Friendly faces are needed to visit with or "adopt" residents, many of whom have no family or friends nearby. Volunteers can also help by assisting with daily activities, donating gifts, and preparing welcome baskets.
There are also a number of national volunteer resources available on the Internet, including: