What will bring us together? Have you noticed how strangers often instinctively unite during a major catastrophe? Our inherent impulse to help others was instantly triggered in the aftermath of the September 11th attack, Super Storm Sandy, Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, and massive brush fires in California and Australia through volunteerism. To paraphrase the tagline of a major transportation company (BNSF Railway), volunteering is “the engine that connects us”. Yet this good feeling of unity often fades back into the background again as we work through our own ongoing challenges.

But when we extend ourselves with our time and talents to volunteer locally (even beyond the annual MLKing Jr. Day of Service), we sustain the feeling of unity throughout the year as it becomes a part of our daily lives.

Take a look at just some of the local nonprofit organizations that need your help. Think about the change you want to make as you extend yourself one hour at a time, echoing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “urgency of now” (“Strides In Social Justice Made By Working As A Community”, Ryan P. Haygood, Times of Trenton, Jan. 20, 2020, pA8).

Anchor House: https://www.anchorhousenj.org/ services for runaways, homeless youth, and children aging out of the system

CASA of Mercer County: www.casamb.org accompany abused and neglected children who have been removed from their families to court

Dress For Success: https://dressforsuccess.org/get-involved/volunteer/  collect and donate business attire for the unemployed or volunteer as a public speaker of fundraiser

Homefront: https://www.homefrontnj.org/volunteering/  volunteer to serve homeless families

Meals on Wheels: www.mealsonwheelsmercer.org  deliver meals to the homebound

New Jersey State House tours:  njstatehousetours@njleg.org  volunteer as a State House tour guide through The Office of Legislative Services

New Jersey State Museum: Contact: Megan.Innes@sos.nj.gov  volunteer as a museum docent to show visitors our state’s rich history

One Simple Wish: https://www.onesimplewish.org/ help teens aging out of the foster system

SCORE: www.score.org  volunteer business advice to current and future entrepreneurs

TASK Trenton Area Soup Kitchen: www.trentonsoupkitchen.org volunteer to serve meals to the homeless or teach GED and job search skills

UIH Family Partners: www.uihfamiilypartners.org  train to guide unemployed non-custodial fathers in parenting, job readiness, workforce development, computer skills, time, stress, and anger management skills. Donate men’s clothes for unemployed men

Volunteer Match: https://www.volunteermatch.org search by subject of interest and zip code for volunteer opportunities

Mercer Street Friends: www.mercerstreetfriends.org assist the organization in helping families and communities make the journey out of poverty