There’s no reason you shouldn’t benefit from doing good for our communities. And if you want to improve your health while having a positive impact, too, our region offers plenty of opportunities to get up and get moving while you volunteer.
by Beth Kaszuba
Step up at a state park
If you already enjoy Pennsylvania’s vast network of state parks, why not help maintain them — and get some exercise, too?
The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is always looking for volunteers to do everything from clear trails and improve wildlife habitats to conduct guided walks and perform light maintenance for visitors to campgrounds.
Depending on your interests and availability, you can join a one-time effort, like a park cleanup, or become a Conservation Volunteer, which involves a more serious commitment of time and energy.
For more information, including a searchable schedule of upcoming events, visit dcnr.pa.gov/GetInvolved.
Make some furry friends
We’ve all heard about the benefits of enlisting a buddy to keep our fitness goals on track.
What if you had a furry fitness pal waiting for you to walk or run on a regular basis?
Lots of animal shelters and rescue organizations invite volunteers to play with or walk pets waiting for their forever homes. Lace up, leash up — and maybe even find a lifelong workout partner. Start at HumaneSociety.org/volunteer or search “animal rescue near me.”
Run for fun, fitness and charity
Joining one of our region’s many foot races, which range from fun runs to marathons, is a great way to motivate yourself to train, get moving outdoors on race day — and support deserving charities, too.
Maybe you want to support a local cause, like raising money for a neighbor facing an illness. Or maybe you want to put feet to pavement in support of an international effort, like the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
Either way, you’ll be a winner even if you don’t cross the finish line first.
Search for local races — sorted by location, date and distance — at RoadRaceRunner.com.
Put me in, coach
Even if you weren’t a high school or college sports star, you could still have something to offer others as a volunteer coach.
Take to the field by helping out with a local soccer team. Sign up to become a coach or running buddy for girls training for Girls on the Run. Or help an athlete train for a Special Olympics competition. You’ll be helping promote healthy lifestyles for others and yourself, and probably boosting someone else’s self-esteem and confidence, too.
To learn more about opportunities, visit ayso.org/get-involved/volunteer, GirlsOnTheRun.org and SpecialOlympics.org/get-involved/volunteer.