Are you looking for ways to help others with MS? You have a lot to offer. Whether it’s your time and energy, insights and experience, or commitment to making change, your contributions can make a positive difference in the lives of others who are coping with the condition.

Volunteering can also have positive effects on your life. According to the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, helping others may help increase your happiness, build social connections, and even improve your physical health. Getting involved in your community is a great way to meet other people while giving back.

Here are five ways that you can get involved.

There are many organizations and groups across the country that provide information and other forms of support to people with MS. Many of them rely on volunteers to help achieve their mission and maintain their day-to-day operations.

Consider contacting a local, state, or national organization to learn about volunteer opportunities. Let them know about your skills and interests. Depending on your abilities, your availability, and their needs, you might be able to help:

  • run a special event or fundraiser
  • operate a weekly or monthly program
  • prepare educational or outreach materials
  • update their website or social media platforms
  • make repairs or conduct cleaning and maintenance activities at their office
  • provide public relations, marketing, accounting, or legal advice
  • update their computer systems or databases
  • stuff envelopes or hand out flyers
  • act as a patient spokesperson

There are many other ways that you might be able to help out. To learn how you can put your skills to use, contact an organization that you’re interesting in volunteering with.

If you’re interested in making a regular and ongoing commitment, many support groups rely on volunteer leaders to stay afloat. Some support groups focus on individuals with MS, while others are open to family members.

If there’s already a support group in your area, consider contacting the leaders to learn if there are opportunities to get involved. If no support groups are available near you, this might be a good time to start one. You could also join or launch a support group online. For example, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society hosts multiple support groups online.

If you prefer to connect with people one-on-one, you might make a good peer counselor. Peer counselors draw on their experiences with MS, in order to help others learn to cope with the condition. They offer a sympathetic ear and emotional support to people who might be feeling overwhelmed, isolated, or lost.

If you’re interested in becoming a peer counselor, consider contacting a medical clinic or nonprofit organization to learn if they operate peer counseling services for people with MS. For example, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society screens and trains volunteers to provide peer support through phone and email.

If you’re not ready to make a long-term commitment, there are many ways that you can help on a short-term basis. For example, fundraising campaigns often require only a few hours of your time.

Charity walks and other sporting events are one popular way to raise money for medical causes and non-profit organizations. Every spring, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society runs multiple MS Walks. It also hosts a variety of other fundraising events.

Local clinics, hospitals, and community groups may run fundraisers, too. In some cases, they might be raising money for MS-related services. In other cases, they might be raising funds for programs that help people with a variety of health conditions. Whether you help run the event or fundraiser, or collect pledges as a participant, it can be a fun way to pitch in.

Many researchers conduct focus groups, interviews, and other types of studies among people living with MS. This can help them learn how the condition affects people. It can also help them identify changes in community members’ experiences and needs.

If you’re interested in helping to advance the science of MS, you might find it satisfying to take part in a research study. To learn about research studies in your area, consider contacting a local clinic or research institute. In some cases, you can also participate in surveys or other studies online.

Whatever your skill set or experiences, you have something valuable to offer your community. By contributing your time, energy, and insights, you can help make can a difference.