Let’s be honest: Bellingham gives us a lot. We have Baker, Larabee, a great school with many resources, and so much more. Perhaps this summer, when school isn’t such a relentless force, you could take a break from your strenuous laying in the sun activities to instead help out our community— and also flesh out your resume.

After searching many different databases of volunteer opportunities, I found that Volunteer Match and the Whatcom Volunteer Center had the most interesting and widely variable choices.

Here are the ones that piqued my interest:

*Foster Home for Dogs and Cats*
Have you ever ached to have a dog or cat like you did when you lived with your parents? Students’ schedules make it very difficult to own an animal and give it proper care, but for the summer you can become a certified foster home for the Alternative Humane Society and keep one of their dogs or cats in your home until the animal is adopted.
Contact: 1-800-VOLUNTEER (from the Whatcom Volunteer Center).

*Whatcom Film Association*
The Pickford is the only Bellingham cinema that makes a concerted effort to show independent films and socially important documentaries. This summer, you can help out by working in concessions and by cleaning up the facility. In exchange, you will get passes to watch movies for free! You do need a Food Handlers permit, but the Whatcom Film Association will reimburse you for the price of the test.
Contact: 1-800-VOLUNTEER (from the Whatcom Volunteer Center).

*Reading Tutor in Bellingham Treatment Facility*
The Sea Mar Community Health Center is looking for volunteers to serve as reading tutors in their Youth Treatment Center. For four hours a week, tutors will work with girls from the age of 14 to 17 to help them increase their reading abilities and confidence. A three month commitment must be made to be a tutor.
Location: 1603 E. Illinois St., 98226.
Contact: 206-788-3201 (Seattle office).

*Farm Animal Caregiver*
Windy Acres Farm employs eleven horses, three goats, three rabbits, a llama, chickens, two dogs and a cat to work with at-risk youth in the community. By simply working with the animals, the youth learn about communication, trust, self-esteem and empowerment. Windy Acres Farm is looking for volunteers to spend two hours a week spending time with the animals by grooming them, socializing them and cleaning their living quarters.
Location: 721 Van Wyck Rd., 98226.

*Surfrider Foundation*
In order to keep our beaches as beautiful as they are, the Surfrider Foundation keeps a close watch on pollution in the water. You can help out by collecting water samples from local beaches and delivering the samples to the lab. Training is provided, and this is a great experience for science majors or anyone interested in preserving Bellingham’s natural beauty.
Contact the Northwest Straights Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation at nws@surfider.org.

*Mount Baker Planned Parenthood*
The Mount Baker Planned Parenthood has been a local aid to men and women in making healthy sexual choices for many years, and in the three counties they serve, nearly 15,000 people a year come in search of information and services. If you are interested in helping out in any way, contact the volunteer coordinator at volunteer@mbpp.org.

*Language Advocates Interpreter*
Put your foreign language skills to good use, and help out the Legal Assistance Law Advocates in their confidential counseling of Spanish-speaking and Russian-speaking clients. A six month commitment is preferred.

Call 1-800-VOLUNTEER or contact the Whatcom Volunteer Center to be put in touch with the organization.
Research at the Sean Humphrey House

The Sean Humphrey House is a place in Bellingham for low-income people who are living with HIV/AIDS to get support and have a place to live. You can help out the organization by researching and assisting with grant preparation for the house or by researching HIV/AIDS related issues and maintaining up-to-date files for volunteers and staff at the house. For more information call (360) 733-0176.

*Event Recycling Volunteer*
RE Sources needs volunteers to attend local concerts, races, parades and other community events in order to help recycle bottles and cans and be an advocate for recycle and reuse options. Only three hours a month are required. For more information, contact (360) 733-8307.

*Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services of Whatcom County*
This organization is dedicated to supporting individuals affected by domestic violence and sexual assault, and you can help by creating a safe and caring atmosphere for youth affected by these horrible crimes. Many different volunteer opportunities are possible, ranging from working every Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. to working in the Criminal Justice Advocacy Program. Either way, you will receive extensive and very valuable training. For more information, call (360) 715-1563.