When you’re living in a city as vibrant Miami, it can be easy to get caught up in your own scene, hitting up the newest restaurants, seeking out the latest shows, and of course taking photos of your weekend escapades, putting a filter on it and posting it for the world to envy.
But what we often forget or ignore are the people who aren’t on our Instagram feeds: The disenfranchised communities who don’t even have basic access to the internet, fresh produce, or homes. The prosperity gap is real. The affordable housing crisis is real.
But we can be a part of the change. We believe that part of our motto “Live Like You Live Here” also means looking out for your community.
We’ve gathered up a list of ways you can give back to your community directly and maybe even have a little fun doing it.
Make the Homeless Smile: Local activist Valencia Gunder saw a need in her community and sought to fill it by creating an organization that provides resources, education, jobs, and housing for the homeless. Every third Sunday Make the Homeless Smile provides haircuts, books, clothing, and kindness to people that society often overlooks — and the only payment they ask in return is a smile. (We volunteered with them this past weekend and it was awesome.)
HandsOnMiami: This is your essential portal to all things volunteering in Miami. They do an amazing job of not only connecting would-be helpers with the organizations that need them, but they also plan some pretty epic events, like Horticulture at Vizcaya and Open Mic Night at the VA.
United Way: We are all about building community and few do that better than the United Way. This list wouldn’t be complete without them. From offering education, to health services, to tools for achieving financial stability, they work diligently to harvest a caring community.
Lotus House: Lotus House provides refuge to homeless women and children, often victims of domestic violence. This is far more than just a shelter. Here women are given education and tools to empower themselves, establishing a pathway to self-sustainability. They often post their needs and volunteering opportunities on their Facebook page.
Paws For You: We can’t leave out our furry friends. Volunteering with Paws For You can mean simply transporting super cute pups to and from events and vet appointments to dog socialization and exercising. Basically it’s just hanging out with puppies who need love, care, and affection. We wouldn’t even consider that work. Those puppy dog eyes and slobbery kisses are payment enough.
The Underline: By transforming the 10-mile stretch of land beneath the Metrorail into a linear park, urban trail, and living art space the people behind The Underline are making Miami more walkable and bike friendly. You can join them in their regular (and often family friendly events) which all seek to raise money to make this project a reality.
VolunteerCleanUp.Org: Founded by local couple Dave Doebler and Dara Schoenwald, this organization acts a platform for people to build teams and organize events for cleaning up our city’s shorelines. It also serves as a resource for those who are passionate about cleaning up out waters. Businesses, students, groups of friends can get together with other like-minded people to keep our community debris free. They have volunteer opportunities every weekend all over Miami, making it easier than ever to make sure Miami remains beautiful.
Radio Lollipop: Volunteers provide playtime, comfort, and entertainment at children’s hospitals. The coolest part is that they have radio station especially for their sweet little patients. During their stay the hospital, the kids get to hear their favorite songs being played live on air. And on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays some kids even take over and DJ.
Pridelines: In the aftermath of the Pulse shooting, being an ally to the the LGBTQ community is one way to show your support. Pridelines offers a safe haven for LGBT youth, adults, and allies and offers a wide range of invaluable resources from referral services to a study hall and chill lounge for teen to learn, hang, and connect with each other. You can volunteer as a program facilitator for the educational activities they offer.
Empowered Youth: Empowered Youth seeks to combat juvenile violence and inner-city crime, death, and incarceration through fostering job development. They offer young black men ages 12-18 classes, teaching them business skills by offering opportunities for hands-on learning. One of the coolest ways they do that is by letting them operate a food truck, called Vibe 305. The proceeds go to keeping this non-profit thriving. You can both volunteer your time and show the love by hiring them for your next event or simply ordering a Change Burger or the Gratitude BBQ pulled pork.
Common Threads: Where my chefs at? This one is just for you. Many people, especially those in low income families, don’t have the knowledge and access to prepare healthy, nutritious meals for their loved ones. This dope organization pairs chefs with adults and children to teach them about healthy eating and cooking. They are very much in need of some volunteers who want to cook up some up change.
Everglades Foundation: We’ve covered the algae blooms just a few hours north and we cannot stress enough how important it is that we protect our waters. The Everglades Foundation is out there doing the dirty work to make sure that happens. Restoring and protecting the Everglades is critical to sustaining so many species of animal and plant lives, and pivotal to our existence. They offer a wide range of intern opportunities to learn about Everglades preservation
Neighbors4Neighbors: In the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew emerged this nonprofit with one simple goal- connect those in need with the people in their community that can help. They believe every single person has some gift, talent, or knowledge they can share that would benefit their neighbor through events, storytelling, and technology they make those connections possible. All you have to do is tell them what you enjoy doing, who you want to help, and how you can to help and they take it from there by letting you know regularly about those opportunities catering to your specific interests. The volunteering experience personally curated for you!
This is just a few of the opportunities. Who did we forget? Let us know in the comments.