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Giving back to the community

With community service deadlines approaching for on-campus organizations and scholarships, the need for volunteer opportunities that fulfill your requirements and catch your attention is on the rise. Luckily, Tyler provides a variety of volunteer opportunities for students to get involved within the community. Here are a few volunteer opportunities within five miles of TJC. 

Nicholas’ Pet Haven

Nicholas’ Pet Haven is an animal rescue nonprofit organization located 5.2 miles away from TJC at 12903 Hwy 155 S, Tyler, TX 75703. This organization was founded in 2013 by organization president Nicholas Nash, who was 13 years old at the time. Since its founding, Nicholas’ Pet Haven has made large impacts on the lives of the dogs and cats they have taken in over the years. 

Photo courtesy of Nicholas’ Pet Have

“The mission of Nicholas’ Pet Haven is to provide shelter and care to lost, homeless, unwanted, abandoned or abused animals. We have taken in more injured animals than any other rescue in our area to help get them back on their feet and adopted into loving homes,” Nash said.

Nash discloses the organization is in desperate need for volunteers as well as foster homes for their organization. 

“Our shelter is a great place to volunteer because we are always shorthanded and we desperately need the help,” Nash said. “It’s the volunteers that help keep us going and allows us to rescue even more dogs. Besides volunteers, we are in need of foster homes where these animals can rest and recuperate.”

Volunteers within the organization will have a set of responsibilities.

“We get started at 9 each morning and ask that volunteers arrive at this time. We have them walk dogs, do chores such as washing dishes and general cleaning. Volunteers can stay as long as they like but the main chores are done in the morning,” Nash said. 

For more information about volunteering, individuals can send the organization a private message through their Facebook page, Nicholas’ Pet Haven.

Photo by Chris Swann

Meals on Wheels East Texas

Meals on Wheels East Texas is an organization that has been serving  the East Texas area since 1973 with their first meal being delivered on Oct. 15, 1973. This organization is dedicated to a variety of goals, such as, “supplying homebound seniors and disabled citizens nutritious meals, abating the loneliness and isolation of elderly and disabled persons by providing daily contact with members of their communities, promoting the health, safety, and welfare of all elderly and disabled persons in East Texas,” according to mealsonwheelsetx.org.

Miranda Asmussen, marketing and public relations director, explains the importance of volunteering with the organization. “Our clients need our volunteers. Aside from feeding people who struggle with food insecurity, research shows that a daily visit four days a week is the greatest benefit to their health to keep them from succumbing to loneliness and isolation with ensuing depression and anxiety which leads to health issues,” Asmussen said. “Food insecure seniors are 60% more likely to experience depression, 53% more likely to report a heart attack, 52% more likely to develop asthma, and 40% more likely to experience congestive heart failure. While food is vital, so are the safety checks and friendly faces at their door each day.”

As a volunteer for Meals on Wheels, individuals are able to decide how often they would like to contribute. 

“The volunteer’s time commitment is entirely up to him or her. We have volunteers who are here every week, Monday through Thursday, and we have others who volunteer as little as once a month. We have a schedule volunteers can sign up for and have routes assigned based on who’s available to deliver any given day,” Asmussen said.

Volunteer responsibilities will include packing meals, delivering meals and providing safety checks. Asmussen explains volunteers usually pack their delivery meals for the day in the mornings. Each volunteer is assigned a specific route to deliver that can range from 10-20 stops. 

“Generally, the volunteer’s time spent is between an hour and a half and two hours accounting for traffic, chats with clients, how long they take to pack up, etc.,”  Asmussen said.

For individuals who do not have a vehicle to deliver, another option mentioned on the website is to team up with someone you know and tackle delivering together. 

For more information,visit mealsonwheelsetx.org/get-involved, or  call (903)-593-7385 and speak with Donna Anderson, volunteer coordinator for Tyler.

Other Meals on Wheels volunteer locations in areas such as Upshur County, Wood County, Van Zandt County, Henderson County, and Gregg County can be contacted at different numbers. For individuals interested in volunteering in these locations contact Meals On Wheels main office number to receive specific contact information for each location. 


Photo by Marie Salazar

TheraPet is a nonprofit, volunteer-based organization providing Animal Assisted Therapy and Animal Assisted Activities for individuals undergoing all forms of rehabilitation. According to therapet.org, “Animal Assisted Therapy is when animals are used in goal-directed treatment sessions. These goals can be physical, mental, emotional and/or social.”

Sydney Baker, operations coordinator, provides a brief insight on TheraPet’s main mission as an nonprofit organization.

“Our mission is to utilize specially trained and certified animals to promote health, hope and healing. We accomplish this mission by: Establishing and communicating standards of practice for the use of specially trained animals in the health care setting; Providing education to health care professionals, educators and facility leaders; Educating communities on the opportunities and benefits of Animal Assisted Therapy; Providing the highest quality and best trained volunteer/animal teams to the people we serve,” Baker said. 

TheraPet offers two volunteer opportunities. Volunteers with animals who are certified in AAT and AAA and volunteers without animals.

Individuals who are interested in volunteering with their animal must have completed training and certifying their animals. To find all certification requirements visit, therapet.org/volunteer/certification.

Individuals volunteering for TheraPet without animals will still have a variety of responsibilities.

“Volunteers without animals in the program assist at facility visitation, community events, and by dressing up as our mascot ‘Healer,’ as their personal schedule and the organization’s calendar permits,” Baker said.

Individuals interested in volunteering at Therapet can visit therapet.org/volunteer to receive an online volunteer application form. 

For additional questions/information, contact (903) 535-2125, between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday – Friday.

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