Paid Work or Volunteering

Should I get a paid job or should I volunteer?

If you are thinking about going back to work, talk to your therapist about getting involved in a vocational program. You can decide on whether a paid or volunteer experience will be better for you. She may also refer you to a benefits specialist who can explain the social security or veterans administration laws to you. This is important because you don’t want to lose your Medicaid benefits if you go back to work.

If you decide you want to have a paid job, ask your therapist or support group for help. “Back to work” programs can help you write a resume, practice interviewing and learn basic computer skills. If you decide to look for a job on your own, go to your public library. Public libraries have resources for job seekers. The Division of Labor and Employment has job postings, but you may have to do most of the legwork yourself. If there is an independent living center in your community, they can also be a good resource. They may be able to refer you to agencies or organizations that specialize in finding jobs for people with disabilities.

If you decide that volunteering is best for you, you’ll have lots of opportunities. Non-profits and charities are always looking for good volunteers. This is a good choice if you’ve been out of the work force for a long time. Volunteering is a way to get work experience. If you decide to volunteer, decide what interests you. If you like animals, call your local animal shelter. If you like to work with people, drop-in centers and programs that help those with disabilities are a good choice. You can also call your local United Way and ask about volunteer opportunities. The client and family advocate(PDF) at your mental health center may be able to help you learn more about volunteering.