Blog: Start your New Year’s resolutions with 4 family-friendly volunteer opportunities in Fort Wayne

As you begin working toward your New Year’s resolutions, make sure community volunteering is on your list of to-do’s.

Whether you are looking to find a way to give back regularly, or just once this year, there are plenty of organizations that open their doors daily for passionate volunteers in Fort Wayne.

As the founder of a volunteer organization called the Greater Good of Northeast Indiana, one of the most frequent questions I hear is how to “give back” with your family. Many people want to volunteer with their children, but don’t know where to start.

Here are a few family-friendly ways to “give back” in northeast Indiana.

Community Harvest Food Bank

One of my family’s first volunteering experiences in Fort Wayne was with the Community Harvest Food Bank. Since then, on more than one occasion, I have taken my boys (ages 6 and 9) with me to volunteer to stock the shelves. This is usually one of the first locations that I suggest to families or younger groups because it keeps the kids busy and focused. It also immerses you in the experience and operation of a Food Bank, which provides a great opportunity to teach children why we need to show up for all members of our community.

Mad Anthonys Children’s Hope House

Another way to directly serve local families is to prepare a dinner for the Mad Anthonys Children’s Hope House. The Hope House provides low-cost housing to families who are staying close to their children and other family members who are patients of Lutheran Hospital. The Hope House relies on volunteers to help provide home cooked or donated meals to families through its Hometown Chef program. Families, sports teams, and other groups can pick a date to prepare a meal in the Hope House gourmet kitchen together.

Along with being a fun family bonding experience, cooking together is a great way to teach children basic kitchen skills. Aubrey Heath, a boomerang resident of Fort Wayne, recently took her children to prepare a spaghetti and meatball dinner at Mad Anthonys.

“We were happy to directly help families in our community.” Heath says. “My kids felt so good knowing they were helping other kids and their families. This is definitely something we will do on a regular basis.”

NeighborLink Fort Wayne

Looking for a chance to roll up your sleeves and accomplish some home repair projects?

NeighborLink Fort Wayne makes it easy to volunteer as an individual, family, or organization within any zip code of Fort Wayne. Just find the project you’d like to do, and sign up online.

From mulching to painting houses, there are currently more than 200 open projects available on NeighborLink’s website, making it go-to for people who want to make a difference in their own zip code.

NeighborLink hopes to connect neighbors in a practical way that encourages relationships and healthier neighborhoods in the city we love. It’s a great way to teach your children that they don’t have to go far to lend a helping hand.

Junior Achievement of Northeast Indiana

A slightly different approach to volunteering is within your children’s school. The most specific and long-running program for this is Junior Achievement of Northeast Indiana where there are multiple Kindergarten–12th Grade programs taking place in all of Fort Wayne’s schools.

Over the past three years, I have been an on-site-visitor for Junior Achievement in my oldest son’s classrooms, and it has multiple benefits. It only takes one hour a week, and I love that I can be a part of my child’s regular learning day and interact with the classroom in a way that is beneficial for all students.

Junior Achievement provides the program details and all the supplies for each in-classroom session. Plus, each year, the heartfelt “Thank You” notes from the students are really what keep me coming back to give more.


So let’s all lend a hand to make 2020 the year of change in our community.

If you are interested in learning more about these and other volunteer opportunities, please reach out the organization listed for more information. You can also follow the Greater Good of Northeast Indiana on Facebook or visit our website and subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

We’ll highlight various volunteer opportunties and ways to give back throughout the year.

As the Greater Good of Northeast Indiana, it is not just our resolution but our mission to help people help others.

Read more articles by Jennifer Norris-Hale.

Jennifer Norris-Hale is a boomerang resident of Fort Wayne. She graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Apparel Merchandising and was in the apparel industry for over 10 years, spending most of that time building a career in Manhattan. Since returning to Fort Wayne in 2015 she has continued developing her true passion in philanthropy as the founder of The Greater Good Fort Wayne. She is a board member for Middle Waves and the Youth Services Bureau. Most importantly, she is a mother of three boys and truly enjoys getting them out and about to enjoy all that Fort Wayne has to offer.