Moving to Vienna while exciting can also prove to be a challenge for spouses who were employed prior to their move abroad. It is all too common for the trailing spouse to find him or herself with an abundance of unstructured time.
Volunteer activities can help fill that time as well as provide a sense of purpose. They can also provide you with something to add to your resume when it comes time to look for paid work. I have researched some volunteer opportunities for those who may be interested. It is advisable to use Google Chrome in opening these pages so that anything in German is translated to English.
Community Liason Office
If you are a U.S. diplomat, you may want to check with your community liason officer (CLO) to see if there are any activities or programs that are coming up that you can assist with. The office is always looking for volunteers.
Most schools are always looking for parent volunteers and even for substitute teachers. There is always an event coming up that needs planning and leadership. You can also volunteer to be a room parent for your child’s classroom which will keep you quite busy.
Opportunities include organizing fundraising events; volunteering with children and young adults; providing food, school supplies, or other necessities to families in need; and more.
Caritas is an international organization affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. They have several options available to volunteers. These included teaching English to other volunteers, tutoring children in English, caring for children and many others. Their website is in German but can be translated into English using Google Chrome.
This branch of Caritas works with the elderly to include those living with dementia and those in hospice care. Their site is also in German, but they may have opportunities available to English speakers.
This organization provides support to persons living with HIV/AIDs. As someone who worked clinically with this population, I cannot begin to tell you how rewarding this experience can be. Volunteering with this organization allows you to provide compassion and friendship to a group that is still marginalized by society. You will be humbled by the stories you hear and the people you meet. The website has a link for information in English which leads me to believe that language barrier may not be so much of a problem.
They have a location next to the Wiener Stadthalle. While the website is in German, they may offer opportunities to those interested in global issues specific to women.
For anyone interested in mental health, this organization is looking for Social Escort/Mentor to spend 1-3 hours on 1-2 days per week with a person living with mental illness. Having worked with persons with mental illness for 15 years, this can be an equally rewarding experience and it is never a dull moment.
For those with a sense of humor, this organization looks for volunteers to be clowns and visit children in hospitals. There are auditions for those who are talented in the creative arts. You can be a mime – no German necessary:-)
This organization seems to be the equivalent of the Make a Wish Foundation. They are looking for volunteers to visit sick children and document their wishes.
The Vienna Zoo offers a variety of volunteer opportunities for those willing to commit to volunteering for a minimum of 6 months for 12 hours per month. Of note, they do not allow their volunteers into animal spaces for safety reasons, but you can supervise children at their petting zoo as well as many other options.
Finally, please remember that looking for volunteer work is like looking for paid work. You have to reach out to organizations you are interested in volunteering in. I would advise that if something interests you to please call the organization directly. Most places have at least one person that speaks English and they are usually looking for assistance in some capacity.