Why Volunteering is Important

VolunteersEvery day, Americans with and without disabilities spend their time and energy making a difference in the lives of people in their community.  In 2015, about 62.6 million people volunteered in their communities.

People with I/DD, their families, and professionals across The Arc’s chapter networks serve their communities in many ways, including:

  • Serving meals at soup kitchens
  • Preparing and delivering meals to seniors
  • Stocking food pantries
  • Helping keep communities beautiful
  • Spending time with people who are isolated
  • Helping care for pets and other animals

Sometimes, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) do not have as many opportunities to volunteer in the community as they would like. This happens for many reasons:

  • Societal perception or attitude that people with disabilities can only receive service and cannot provide service to others
  • Volunteer groups and coordinators may not have experience working with people with I/DD and may not know how or have enough staff to support them to volunteer
  • Volunteer locations may not be accessible to people with I/DD
  • A person with I/DD may need to have people around them who can help if they have a health need (e.g., a seizure)
  • Some people with I/DD may need or want support with the tasks requested of them
  • People may struggle to find transportation to/from a volunteer location
  • A person with I/DD may not volunteer because they are worried that they will let down the group they are volunteering with if they cannot participate due to medical reasons
  • People with I/DD may also not know how to express their interest in volunteering or where to find volunteer opportunities in their community
  • People with I/DD may not want to volunteer because they want a paid job
  • If a person with I/DD receives benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), he or she may be afraid that volunteering will impact his or her benefits

The resources on these pages show you how to find and create inclusive volunteering opportunities where people with and without disabilities can work together in your community.

For more help or questions about volunteering, contact Sladen@thearc.org.

This website is based upon work supported by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) under Grant No. 15MKHDC002.  Opinions or points of view expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position of, or a position that is endorsed by CNCS or the MLK Day of Service.