Start volunteering this holiday season

Help out with organizations in Palouse area that match your passions, for yours, others’ benefits



Volunteers pass out small bowls of lentil chili during the 2018 Lentil Festival on Aug. 17 at Reaney Park in Pullman.

MAGGIE QUINLAN, Evergreen reporter

During this time of giving, when classes aren’t occupying our minds, students have the opportunity to get involved with volunteer work in our area.

Why volunteer? Not only will you rack up good karma and feel great for making use of your time on Earth, you’ll also give yourself an edge with future employers.

Volunteer work can fill out your resume and could lead to direct employment opportunities. If you want to start networking in your areas of interest and making lifelong buds, look no further than nonprofit work. On top of that, volunteering could be great for your health.

A 2017 article in BioMed Central Public Health, written by researchers at the University of Hong Kong and based on surveys of Texans, found that volunteering was significantly correlated with better health outcomes in adults.

Zoe Skiadopoulou is an animal science major on the pre-veterinary track at WSU, and she volunteers for two nonprofits in the area. She says volunteer work is a win-win.

“Especially if you can find something that you can connect to what you’re passionate about,” she said, “it makes you feel great, and it makes other people feel great.”

So what are some options in the area that might connect to your passions?

For childhood lovers

For those who love to teach and help local children, Lincoln Middle School takes on math tutors for sixth graders. You can find information about this option on the website for WSU’s Center for Civic Engagement.

As a tutor you’ll get to work one-on-one with a sixth grader in Kay Ailor’s classroom during an independent work period. After sending in a basic volunteer application — which doesn’t inquire about GPA but does inquire about any aggravated murder charges — you will go through an orientation.

If you’re looking for more hours in a week, you can volunteer as child care volunteer for Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery in Spokane. This nursery’s goal is to offer an immediate refuge for children.

Providing child care in Spokane is a bigger time commitment but also really helps kids in need.

For garden lovers

Backyard Harvest, a Moscow nonprofit gardening collective, has the mission to bring fresh, nutritious produce to our community members in need, especially seniors and children. This is a great opportunity for people who love to garden, but just don’t have the space to do it in their Apartment Land pad.

While there are gardener positions available, you don’t have to have a green thumb to put yourself to work for this cause. Backyard Harvest is also looking for people who can help with distribution and delivery, media and communication, garden coordination, outreach and education, office support and other types of work.

For animal lovers

The Whitman County Humane Society in Pullman is always looking for helpers. Volunteers at the shelter can help with cleaning spaces and socializing and exercising animals.

Skiadopoulou recommends that dog and cat lovers volunteer for the Palouse branch of Pet Partners, called Palouse Paws. Palouse Paws allows you to train your own personal pet for therapy work. Once the animal takes a final test, they can provide comfort to patients at the Pullman Regional Hospital, therapists’ clients and seniors at nursing homes.

Skiadopoulou has led her dog Mitsy through the process. Mitsy tested and will now be providing emotional assistance at Pullman nursing homes. Skiadopoulou said it’s been a great experience.

“I’m getting to spend time with my dog and do what I love,” she said. “Basically I get to take my dog and use her to make other people happy.”

To get involved, you can email Renee Piper, owner of Tail Waggin’ Adventures doggy daycare and Palouse Paws organizer, at [email protected].

Piper is also a trainer and handler for Canine Companions for Independence, or CCI, and can help you get involved with the organization. CCI helps volunteers train service labs and retriever mixes. Skiadopoulou said she takes Piper’s dog to classes once a week to help train the animal.

Are you allergic but still love the critters? You can help out with organizing fundraising events like the Fur Ball, Mutt Strutt and Cruzin’ for Critters. According to the humane society’s website, there’s a variety of committees you can join to help with setup of these events.

To find more opportunities suited to your interests, you can browse the directory on WSU’s Center for Civic Engagement website.