What Can I Do To Help? Making a Difference During Tough Times

Sometimes the news can be overwhelming, with recent reports of illness, financial straits, political strife, and needless deaths. It can start to feel as though no one of us can take enough action to be a positive force in our society, because the problems are just too many and too big.

Don’t despair. This is a common feeling and reaction we have as humans.

“Everybody can be great...Because anybody can serve.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Meade

There are many ways you can help in the community and make a difference. In my household, voluntarism is a way of life, but we’re also social distancing to protect elderly members of our family susceptible to the COVID-19 virus. So in the last several months, we’ve been looking for ways to volunteer remotely from home. Here are some resources to find available volunteer opportunities that are virtual or in-person:

  • Volunteer Match: They have an option here for not only traditional, in-person volunteer opportunities, but also “virtual” volunteering opportunities in locations all over the country.

  • Mile High United Way has in-person and virtual ways to volunteer for nonprofits throughout the greater Denver area.

  • Idealist.org also has volunteer opportunities available throughout the United States (just make sure you select the “volunteer” option).

In-person volunteering options:

Most nonprofit organizations also post available volunteer opportunities on their websites, too, so if you have one in mind, look them up online, or you can contact Reference Services at the Denver Public Library for help. We’re here for you.

Another way to use your time and talent is through volunteering in our government. Each county and city has boards and commissions, where you can shape the future of policies, hiring practices, and rules. For example, in the City and County of Denver there are more than 700 people serving as volunteers for more than 130 boards and commissions. Some of them include: Denver African American Commission, The Bicycling Advisory Committee, the Civil Service Commission, The Denver Early Childhood Council, the Housing Authority, and the Judicial Disciplinary Commission.

The state of Colorado has 300 boards and commissions. Some of them include: Colorado Tourism Office, Veterans Affairs, Colorado Commission on the Aging, Lottery Commission, Mental Health Advisory Board, and Wine Industry Development Board. 

2020 is an election year, so there is no shortage of political campaigns looking for volunteers. If there is a candidate or political party you are interested in supporting, volunteer opportunities are usually posted on their websites.

There are also non-partisan organizations that are looking for volunteers to help register voters, educate voters, and host debates, such as League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote.

So, remember, when things get overwhelming, think of what author Cheryl Strayed wrote in her book “Tiny Beautiful Things”: “You will learn a lot about yourself if you stretch in the direction of goodness, of bigness, of kindness, of forgiveness, of emotional bravery. Be a Warrior Of Love.”

The Denver Public Library is here for you! If you work or volunteer in the nonprofit sector please check out the NonProfit Resource Center at DPL. We are conducting 1:1 appointments virtually, even though our locations are currently closed. And, to find out more about nonprofits, check out our collection of online database and additional resources.


Frank, Leonard Roy. Random House Webster’s Quotationary. New York, Random House, 2008.

Merriam-Webster. Webster’s Dictionary of Quotations. New York, Smithmark, 1995.

We're here for you! Please contact us through our online chat service Ask Us! or by email.

Written by Maf on June 11, 2020