Two Volunteer Opportunities in the Roanoke Valley - 2012

Abstract: My article provides a first hand account of my volunteer experiences at the local Ronald McDonald House and at Roanoke Area Ministries. Both of these charitable organizations are located in Roanoke, Virginia.

Roanoke VA. Photo taken at night from Mill Mountain Star (1)
Anyone who has lived in a large metropolis might think that the Roanoke Valley is tiny. This region in southwest Virginia includes Roanoke City, Salem City, Roanoke County and portions of other counties, though its exact parameters are in question. At most, only around 309,000 people live in the area according to the U.S. Census Bureau. While Roanoke may not have a large population, visitors and residents who want to donate their time to a worthy cause can find a plethora of volunteer opportunities. Two groups I have personal experience with are Roanoke Area Ministries and the local Ronald McDonald House.

According to its website, Roanoke Area Ministries (RAM) provides shelter to homeless individuals. The organization also offers emergency financing to people in need and provides a free lunch to indigent and handicapped Roanokers year round. In the past, I have volunteered to help serve lunch at RAM's facilities, located at 824 Campbell Avenue near downtown Roanoke City. I had a wonderful experience each time I assisted RAM's staff and volunteers in this endeavor. The staff members were passionate about their mission but at the same time were more than willing to help a novice like me learn the ins and outs of cooking and serving. For my part, I gained first-hand information about what it was like to live in poverty. At the same time, I thoroughly enjoyed my volunteer experience because I realized that I was making a difference in the lives of people who were less fortunate than me. I may not have been paid in cash, but I was amply rewarded by the numerous expressions of gratitude from the men and women at the lunch tables.

If you would like to learn more about Roanoke Area Ministries, feel free to visit its website at or call the organization by phone at (540) 345-8850. RAM needs volunteers to assist it with a variety of different tasks.

Recently, I also volunteered for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Virginia which operates one house, located in Roanoke City. The organization's mission is to "provide a safe, secure and comfortable environment" for out-of-town families whose child or teen is coping with a serious illness, which necessitate a stay at Roanoke Memorial Hospital (and perhaps sometimes at Lewis Gale Hospital). I worked in the kitchen helping to prepare dinner for around forty people. I was pleasantly surprised at the fact that the kitchen area was almost immaculate and that all safety and sanitary precautions were followed to the letter. The staff and other volunteers were extremely kind and helpful; one staff member even offered to take my group on a tour of the Ronald McDonald House once we had finished our tasks. Most importantly, I had a chance to do something worthwhile for some families in need.

If you would like to learn more about Ronald McDonald Charities of Southwest Virginia, feel free to visit its website at or call the organization at (540) 857-0770. The Ronald McDonald House needs volunteers to assist it with a variety of different tasks, including meal preparation and household cleaning.

Roanoke Area Ministries and the Ronald McDonald House are only two of the many charities located in the Roanoke Valley. All of these philanthropic organizations need volunteers to help them achieve their goals. If you either live in Roanoke or are visiting the area, I invite you to look one of them up and offer to lend a hand. Like me, you will learn from the experience while at the same helping to make a difference in the Roanoke community.

1. Photographer: Bckdraft911
    Date: January 8, 2009
    Title/Description: Roanoke VA. Photo taken at night from Mill Mountain Star
    Location/Permission: Wikimedia Commons - Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license
    (click on title/link for photo, credit, permissions)

-- Anthony Hopper

#charities #philanthropy #volunteering #personalinterest #RonaldMcDonaldHouse #volunteer #Virginia #Roanoke

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