Volunteering is a great way to give back to the community and make new friends. During this holiday season, local marketing agency Moonraker Marketing (moonrakermarketing.com) would like to remind you that many Austin-area non-profits need volunteers just like you to stay running. With their help, we’ve come up with a list of ten ways you can get involved with volunteering in Austin.

1. Assistance League of Austin

This completely volunteer-run organization has no paid staff and relies on its 418 volunteers to serve the Austin community. ALA takes donations of gently used clothing and household items, which it resells in its well-stocked thrift shop. With the proceeds it raises at the thrift shop, the Assistance League distributes toys to children in hospitals, visits with senior citizens, helps foster children, and distributes clothing to low-income school age children.

2. Austin Public Library

Are you a bibliophile? If so, then Austin Public Library could use your help re-shelving books, leading community programs, and working special events. You can also work in the historical archives or tutor local school children at a library branch close to your house.

Volunteering with the Austin Public Library is perfect if you're a bookworm.

Volunteering with the Austin Public Library is perfect if you’re a bookworm.

3. Austin Parks and Recreation

Channel your inner Leslie Knope and help keep Austin beautiful. Volunteers with the parks department plant trees, maintain trails, and pick up trash in city parks. If you want to head indoors, the park system needs help in its science and cultural centers, too.

4. Airport Greeters

If you love Austin and want to share your appreciation of the city, consider volunteering at the airport. You can greet new arrivals, offer directions, and give advice on local sites for visitors to see. Plus, you get free airport parking!

5. CASA of Travis County

Abused and neglected children need an adult they can trust to advocate for them in the court system. As a CASA volunteer, you’ll meet regularly with an assigned child victim and get to know the child and their social support system. You will also accompany the child to court sessions and speak to the judge and prosecutor about the child’s needs.

CASA of Travis County advocates on behalf of children in the foster system.

CASA of Travis County advocates on behalf of children in the foster system.

6. Caritas

This homeless shelter has served Austin for over 50 years, helping people in poverty realize their true potential and transform their lives. Volunteers are needed to serve in the soup kitchen, food pantry, and office areas. With training, you can work directly with clients to help them build life skills.

7. Thinkery Children’s Museum

Adults or teens can help out at Austin’s science-focused children’s museum. You can run ongoing workshops or give one-time presentations, help curate exhibits or bring your business for a day of service.

8. Drive a Senior

If you want an easy way to make a difference in the lives of someone from Austin, consider volunteering with Drive a Senior. That’s how all of us got our start with volunteering in Austin! This wonderful organization helps elder residents by providing reliable transportation to medical appointments, social engagements, and the grocery store while providing friendship and a smile. You can also make calls to homebound seniors.

9. Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)

Learn how to respond to public disasters in the Austin area. This city-run training will teach you everything you need to know to help your community if disaster strikes.

Give a pup some extra love when you volunteer with the Austin Animal Shelter.

Give a pup some extra love when you volunteer with the Austin Animal Shelter.

10. Austin Animal Shelter

The city’s no-kill pound always needs volunteers to give exercise, love and attention to its dogs and cats. You can volunteer once a week or sporadically.

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While programs like Drive a Senior and Meals on Wheels attempt to enable Austin’s elderly to continue living independently, sometimes families must face the reality that moving their loved one into an assisted living facility could be what’s best for everyone. While making this decision is never easy, nursing homes and retirement communities offer elderly residents the safety of on-site medical assistance, an array of amenities, and several other benefits. As you help your loved one make the transition to assisted living, there are a few things you can do to make the move as easy as possible.

Discuss the Benefits

One of the ways that you can make moving to an assisted living facility a little easier is to talk about the benefits. In addition to having medical staff on call 24/7, residents of retirement homes also have:

  • More social interaction: Instead of spending days at a stretch at home without visitors, nursing home residents have the opportunity for daily social engagement with their peers. Not only are friends just a door over, but assisted living facilities organize an array of parties, events, and even outings.
  • No more home maintenance: For the elderly, home maintenance issues can turn into a real problem and safety issue. By selling their home and moving into a nursing facility, they’ll be free of the burdens of home ownership.
  • Housecleaning is included: Another perk of living in assisted living is that meals and housecleaning are included in the package deal! Now instead of struggling to cook and clean, residents can enjoy doing things that they want to, like playing cards or chatting with friends.
  • Safety: One of the biggest benefits of assisted living is the constant presence of staff to ensure your loved one’s safety. Not only are buildings secure from the threat of burglary, but you’ll no longer have to fret about the potential that your elderly family member might fall and not be able to get up to call for help. In assisted living, they will receive constant monitoring and supervision.
The transition to assisted living can be difficult on those who are used to having autonomy. Make the move easier for your loved one by discussing the many benefits.

The transition to assisted living can be difficult on those who are used to having autonomy. Make the move easier for your loved one by discussing the many benefits.

Take A Tour

Before you decide on one facility, go on a tour of several different residences that are in your price range. Make sure you check out the dining area, common areas, the nursing station, and outdoor areas. Discuss the pros and cons of each facility with your loved one and make sure they are happy with the final decision prior to signing the paperwork.

Know What to Take

No matter what kind of facility they are moving into, your loved one will likely need to do some downsizing. Parting with their beloved possessions may be one of the most difficult parts of moving into assisted living because things are a tangible reminder of a lifetime of memories. Prior to helping your family member move, make sure to contact the assisted living facility. Some independent living apartments allow residents to bring their own furnishings, while others come fully furnished and only require the residents to bring clothing and a few other personal items. Be there to help your loved one as they downsize for assisted living; here are some great tips to help. As you pack for the move, try to take as many decorations from home as possible so that the person feels comfortable. Pictures are ideal as these will keep the person thinking about family members.

If you are moving your loved one into a facility in the Austin area, there are several great professional moving companies that can help you with the moving logistics. We recommend using one of the following Austin-based movers:

Green Gorilla Movers
3621 W. Slaughter Lane #913
Austin, TX 78749
(512) 520-5561

Apple Moving
9807 Brown Ln
Austin, TX 78754
(512) 452-0399

Elephant Moving, Inc.
6110 Trade Center Dr Suite 101B
Austin, TX 78744
(512) 442-6622

Make Introductions

Once they are moved in, take your loved one around to meet some of the staff and other residents who live in the facility. Making new friends might seem daunting, but if you are there, then it might be easier for them to talk to others. Try going at a meal time so that there are more people in one place.


In an assisted living facility, there’s always someone around to lend a helping hand.

Discuss the Medical Offerings

Be aware that different facilities offer different levels of medical care. Assisted living facilities generally only provide basic services, such as providing medications and scheduling doctor’s appointments, while nursing homes offer a broader range of services and more medical staff. Make sure you have a plan for transitioning your loved one to more comprehensive medical care should the need arise.

Moving into assisted living after years of living independently is a difficult transition for most elderly people. Make sure you take the time to listen to your loved one’s needs and prepare them for this big move. Once they are settled in and have made new friends, they will likely enjoy their new home!


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Texas has a rapidly growing senior population. According to the US Census, by 2030 more than 20% of Texans will be over 60. As the population ages, it’s important to have a support system in place to ensure that loved ones can continue to have the quality of life they’ve always enjoyed. Most seniors believe that staying in their own homes is a crucial aspect of this, and Central Texas’ Meals on Wheels program is an important link in the chain to keep the elderly living independently.

The Origins of Meals on Wheels

The concept of Meals on Wheels started in the UK during World War II, when volunteers began delivering meals to people displaced by the blitz. The US version originated in Pennsylvania in 1954 as a program to give meals to seniors and “shut-ins” who would otherwise go hungry. Other states followed, and in 1974 the national Meals on Wheels organization was created, coordinating donors, volunteers, and local resources into the organization we know today.

Meals on Wheels provides homebound seniors with weekly meals and groceries, so that they can maintain an independent lifestyle.

Meals on Wheels provides homebound seniors with weekly meals and groceries, so that they can maintain an independent lifestyle.

Meals on Wheels in Austin

Meals on Wheels does more than just deliver food, it provides key supports to our aging population. It allows seniors more agency as their mobility decreases, removing the burden of cooking and shopping for those that are wheelchair or walker-bound. But more importantly, Meals on Wheels provides a way for seniors to stay connected, providing a friendly face, conversation, and the knowledge that someone is looking out for them.

Additional Services Offered

Meals on Wheels of Central Texas expands on the core mission of the national organization in several ways. They have a variety of meal programs to fit clients’ needs including grocery delivery and shopping help, and they also deliver frozen meals to areas outside of their regular driving range. They manage several senior centers that provide food, games, and exercise, as well as providing respite care for patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s. There’s also a service for veterans that provides meals and case management.

Their services expand beyond nutrition in several ways that recognize and answer challenges facing people who choose to stay in their homes. For example, the HAND program provides in-home caregivers who can help with a variety of tasks like dressing or toileting. PALS will deliver pet food and care products as well as arrange grooming and veterinary care for clients’ furry friends.

Meals on Wheels of Central Texas offers more than just meals. They have several programs to assist the elderly with in-home care, maintenance, and other needs.

Meals on Wheels of Central Texas offers more than just meals. They have several programs to assist the elderly with in-home care, maintenance, and other needs.

For those people needing to add safety features or have a minor house repair, there’s Handy Wheels, which will provide minor house repairs or improvements. They also have a separate home repair service that will remove barriers to having a safe and healthy home, like adding central air. There’s also several pilot programs that provide help with depression, safety and assisting with technology.

What makes Meals on Wheels able to offer crucial supports like these is volunteers, who literally keep the wheels turning. It’s a great way to support your community, helping seniors stay safe and more self-sufficient. Interested in delivering meals, assisting with shopping, or pet care? Check out these volunteer opportunities in the Austin area and find one that fits your schedule. If you don’t have time to serve, donations are also always welcome.


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The holidays are full of festivities, but many senior citizens live alone or in an assisted living residence or nursing home. Sometimes their closest relatives live miles away and may not be able to visit, leaving them lonely over the holidays. If you’re looking for ways to spread holiday cheer, here are eight ways you can put a smile on the faces of Austin’s elderly.

1. Bake Extra Cookies

When you are baking cookies for Santa, make an extra batch to take to a senior citizen who lives near you or who you may know through church or other activities. If you don’t want to bake, this local Austin bakery, the Polkadot Cupcake Factory, has delicious custom treats you can order for the holidays.

While you're baking, whip up some extra cookies for an elderly neighbor or friend.

While you’re baking, whip up some extra cookies for an elderly neighbor or friend.

2. Go Caroling

Can you carry a tune? Even if you aren’t stage material, you can gather a group of friends or family to go caroling in the neighborhood. When a senior citizen opens the door, you can surprise them with their own personal concert of holiday favorites. Alternatively, call up a local nursing home and see if they would enjoy a visit from Christmas carolers to entertain their residents.

3. Include Them in Holiday Programs

Often seniors struggle to find a purpose after they have retired. Asking them to help pass out programs at a holiday show or to read a poem can brighten both your holiday and theirs. After all, “Twas the Night Before Christmas” always sounds better coming from a wise voice of experience doesn’t it?

4. Write Holiday Cards

If you have children, gather a group of their friends and write or make some holiday cards for your local senior citizen groups. Make sure to hand deliver them as well, so the kids can make a connection with seniors and see firsthand how powerful this simple act of kindness can be.

There are many ways you can spread holiday joy this season!

There are many ways you can spread holiday joy this season!

5. Offer to Run Errands

If a senior citizen lives alone, they may not be driving anymore either. Offer to take them shopping or to run errands. If they are not ambulatory, offer to shop for them and help them wrap their presents for their loved ones.

6. Hold a Veteran Pinning Ceremony

Right now, one of every four people who dies in the United States is a veteran. Often these heroes have gone a lifetime not ever being thanked for their service to our country. Get with a local VFW or Veteran’s hospital to see if you can help host a pinning ceremony to honor the veterans in your neighborhood. Take pictures and send to the local media to get even more recognition for the heroic efforts they have done.

7. Be the “Present”

Often just sitting and listening or sharing time is present enough for a senior citizen. Let them tell stories of what it was like for them back in the day. You may be the only one who gets to hear some wild stories they may not have shared before with their families. You may even want to record them on video to preserve for their family as a memento.

8. Go see the Lights

Get in the car or take a stroll with a senior you know to see the holiday lights near downtown Austin at the Austin Trail of Lights.

Regardless of what you do, trying to extend extra kindness to a senior citizen who may be alone this holiday season could mean the world to them. You never know what kind of difference you may be making in their lives…and in yours. For more ideas ways to serve seniors in the Austin community, see this senior service website.

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