We all benefit from acts of kindness and compassion. Downtown Dallas is home to a number of nonprofit organizations seeking to better our community. These groups provide goods and services to families and individuals in need, help protect the environment and offer enrichment opportunities through the arts and sciences.
In addition to enjoying the obvious results of these efforts — happier citizens, healthier ecosystems and world-class cultural experiences — people who commit to serving their communities by volunteering with these nonprofits realize other benefits. For adults, volunteering can be an opportunity to hone an existing skill set or develop a new one while socializing with like-minded people (not to mention extending their professional networks). For teens, volunteering can be a way to gain a greater understanding of the world while polishing their résumés and making them more college-ready. And for children, volunteering can be a means of developing positive character traits such as stewardship and empathy.
For those looking to make as well as experience a positive impact citywide, Downtown Dallas offers no shortage of opportunities.
According to advocacy group Americans for the Arts, multiple studies demonstrate that an arts education has a positive, across-the board influence on the student experience, from boosting essential problem-solving skills to improving the “entire school culture — especially student motivation, attitudes, and attendance.” The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) makes this invaluable instruction available free of charge to participating schools through its Go van Gogh® program. The DMA trains volunteers to go into local schools across North Texas and lead kids (grades K – 6) through fun and creative activities. Students get to interact with great works of art and exercise their own imaginations by experimenting with the raw materials of creative expression.
Just north of the Arts District, on the other side of Woodall Rogers Freeway, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science promotes the value of a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education through a wide array of innovative, hands-on programs. As a museum volunteer, you can work with specific collections and exhibits as well as help out during special events. Either way, the Perot Museum provides perfect opportunities to put everything you remember from Physics 101 to good use — and to have a good time doing it.
If you’ve enjoyed the amenities at Klyde Warren Park, Main Street Garden or any of the city’s other green spaces, consider giving back and helping to ensure the sustainability of this public good. The Dallas Parks & Recreation Department is always looking for volunteers. Even if cleanups aren’t necessarily your thing, you can still coach youth sports teams or teach skills ranging from sewing to robotics. Whether on a one-time or ongoing basis (depending on your schedule), these are great opportunities to share your interests and experiences with your neighbors.
Also aiming to keep our urban spaces as beautiful and hospitable as possible, the Texas Trees Foundation is seeking volunteer tree tenders to care for the hundreds of thousands of trees it has planted (or is in the process of planting) all over Dallas, including Downtown. A green thumb is not required. In fact, if you can’t ever seem to keep a houseplant alive or a garden growing, you may be the perfect candidate to help weed the Foundation’s tree nursery.
Headquartered in Downtown Dallas’ Civic Center District (1822 Young Street), Crossroads Community Services helps low-income families in the community by distributing food and donations of new or gently used clothing and household items through its in-house pantry and a network of distribution partners. Because of the scope of its efforts, the organization needs between 20 and 25 volunteers daily so it can serve its clients both efficiently and graciously.
THANKS, or Teens Helping Abused and Neglected Kids, is a volunteer program offered through Community Partners of Dallas (1215 Skiles Street in the Wilson Historic District just east of I-345). It gives teens a unique opportunity to not only make a difference in the lives of their peers but also to learn about charitable operations in general. Members attend meetings to learn about issues affecting abused and neglected children, get an insider’s view of how nonprofit organizations work and participate in community service projects.
For those with children, Wee Volunteer is a family-centric volunteer group that partners with a number of Dallas-based charitable organizations on special projects, from graffiti cleanup efforts to caring for rescued animals. Wee Volunteer matches preschool and elementary school-aged children with age-appropriate service activities through these local partners. Check out their calendar to learn more about the volunteer opportunities they make available.
These are a just a few of the many diverse volunteer and charitable opportunities to be found in and around Downtown Dallas. Others to explore include all the museums in the Arts District, the plethora of nonprofits located in the Wilson Historic District, Big Thought and SPARK! (both located at Southside on Lamar), The Stewpot, The Bridge, Family Gateway and the North Texas Food Bank near the Dallas Farmers Market… and the list keeps going! So how do you show your community spirit? How would you like to help your fellow Dallasites enjoy the best possible standard of living and quality of life? Share your favorite nonprofits, causes and service ideas for our great city on Facebook and Twitter.