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Finding Volunteer Opportunities for People with Disabilities

Updated on August 10, 2016

Helping Hands

Everyone Can Volunteer

People with mental and physical disabilities carry out normal activities every day. In some cases, the person with the disability might modify a task or go about completing a task in a different way, but nevertheless they are still able to accomplish the task set before them.

Evaluating Level of Ability

Of course, each disability is unique and presents its own set of challenges; however, learning how to assess your own level of ability and independence is a very important process when preparing to volunteer. There are a wide variety of programs designed to meet employment needs of people with disabilities.

Programs that offer one-on-one job coaching, job development, long-term retention preparation, and skill exploration exist specifically to assist people with developmental or intellectual disabilities. Just like each disability is unique, each volunteer opportunity offers unique, meaningful experiences and skill development possibilities.

The Benefits of Volunteering

Volunteering allows people with developmental or intellectual disabilities a chance to interact with other people in a safe environment. It also helps to increase social activity skills while developing a sense of belonging in the community.

Volunteering presents a great way for people to gain friendships and develop significant relationships with authority figures and other members of the community. No matter who you are volunteering creates a sense of comfort and security while increasing one’s feelings of self worth.

Volunteering Barriers for People with Disabilities

Many individuals believe that people with disabilities are incapable of volunteering because they cannot learn new skills, finish jobs, and require too much training. In addition, some businesses or organizations believe that people with disabilities are not as reliable and present a greater risk than people who don’t have disabilities.

Contrary to all these beliefs, people with disabilities are often more reliable and less likely to cause a disruption than people without a disability. In some cases, it may be slightly more time consuming to train someone with a disability, but each volunteer learns at a different pace.

It may be in the benefit of the organization to pair people together as they can help each other learn the skills that the volunteer job requires; in those cases, it is just as effective to hire someone with a disability.

Finding your Niche

There are so many people who want to help out others in their community – and are fully capable of doing so – but simply need a small amount of assistance to start making a difference. People with a developmental or intellectual disability can significantly benefit from acquiring volunteer experience, as volunteering helps individuals develop job skills, earn income, and increase their levels of self-sufficiency.

Volunteering has an opportunity for everyone to help others around them. If you wish to start volunteering and don’t know where to start, try talking with a local service organization, church, or donation center.

Volunteer Group
Volunteer Group

MERS Goodwill

At MERS Goodwill our mission is changing lives through the power of work! Our Vision is a community where each individual has the opportunity to learn, work, and achieve their greatest potential. MERS Goodwill, annually serving more than 69,000 individuals, is a non-profit agency operating in 75 locations throughout 89 counties in the bi-state area of Missouri and Southern Illinois. Revenues from our 43 stores and the auto donations program assist with funding MERS Goodwill job training and employment services. MERS Goodwill is a proud member of the United Way and is four-star rated by Charity Navigator. For more information, visit our webpage.


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