Family Friendly Volunteering – Are You Inspiring a Future of Service?

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Mom and Son at Family Volunteer Day

I am a parent.  I volunteer with the youth at church.  My neices and nephews that range from teenagers to toddlers. I help with Geometry, Physics, History, and English. I cheer  the team at football and volleyball games.  I drive 40 minutes for a high school car wash and buy tickets for a restaurant I do not like, just to support fundraisers.  I frequent science fairs, academic decathlons, cheer competitions, and soccer award ceremonies.  Why? Because I want to inspire good students and encourage greatness in the youth I influence.

But, what about the greater good?  With so many demands on our time, how can we instill the value of helping others?  Many parents and youth leaders actively engage children of all ages in community service through volunteering.  Finding the opportunity to cultivate a commitment to service while having a good time may be most challenging.

For liability and logistical reasons, many organizations do not allow volunteers under 16 to participate.  Do not be discouraged! There are a myriad of opportunities to encouragechildren in volunteer work.  Service clubs such as 4-H, Boy Scouts of America, and Girl Scouts of the USA are a great opportunity for youth service.  Faith-based organizations and child friendly community events are another option. Include kids in employer sponsored service projects, or school and sporting events and fundraisers.   Or, create your own volunteer activity with family and friends.  Designing  your efforts to be age-appropriate and enjoyable, expressing gratitude, and ensuring that children understand the purpose of the work and how they are making a difference is very important.

My teenage niece has volunteered with our family since she was 4 years old.  She has visited many lonely elderly neighbors, participated in neighborhood clean ups, served lunch to volunteers, cared for animals, tutored fellow students, supported school events, and much more.  Voluntarily, she joined her high school Key Club and volunteered all summer to support the coaches of the football team.  I am very proud that she has integrated a commitment to community service in her personal values.  I would like to think I played a part in that.

Some of my most exciting volunteer projects include youth.  One group of honor students from a Parochial school system along the West Coast provided 3 days of service to elderly in the community.  These kids were captivated by a 95 year old woman who recited poems that she wrote to her huband over 60 years prior.  Another team of students from a Jewish school in Arizona helped low-income older adults with household tasks.  On Family Volunteer Day, children and their parents made cards to be delivered with gifts for at-risk elderly in the community.  Rotarians, their children, and grandchildren visited isolated seniors in their homes and facilities in the area. There are many ways we can help our kids to make a difference in the world they live in and develop a lifelong commitment to community service.

Are you inspiring a future of service?  Leave a comment.  Make YOUR difference in the world…Volunteer!

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Find YOUR Passion and Volunteer

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WIA Youth Program Volunteers Paint Project   

     As a Volunteer Director, of course I want you and everyone in my community to volunteer for my program…all of the time.  But I also want volunteers who are passionate about the work and find their service experience to be positive and rewarding.  While ongoing volunteer engagements are a great fit for many organizations and the incredible volunteers that serve them, this scenario does not work well for everyone.  For those of us with limited time and varied interests, one-time events for a variety of organizations accommodate our interests as volunteers, maximize our service experience, and encourage us to volunteer in the future.  Finding the right opportunities require you to find YOUR passion!

     There are a myriad of organizations that need volunteers to provide a much needed service to the community.  But what opportunities are right for you?  Perhaps you are passionate about animals, children, elderly, the blind, developmentally disabled children and adults, cancer patients, low income residents, nature and the environment, health and wellness, sports, fighting crime, improving blight in your neighborhood, education, or other issue.   Find YOUR passion!  What issues are you interested in?  Find what organizations in your community are serving these interests, and ask about volunteer opportunities.  Most of the time, volunteer recruitment information is widely available online and posted on their websites.

     Another option is to join forces with a service club, neighborhood association, faith-based group, or other volunteer organization in your community that is already engaged in service activities.  Find YOUR passion, and check in with these groups to see how they are making a difference.  It is likely that an organization in your neighborhood is already engaged in service that YOU are passionate about, and is a great fit for you to make a difference within your interests and schedule.

    For example, here are local opportunities that are literally, at my door step, and I am making a difference in my community on my schedule:

  • My faith-based group supports three local non-profits that include two women and children’s shelters and a cancer center through donations and volunteer service every Monday
  •  A local bike trail clean up event takes place on a Saturday morning
  • One of my favorite non-profit organizations provides care for foster children is in need of volunteers with a skillset I have to support their operations, and I can do this at home
  • My family delivers vaccinations to various veterinarian clinics participating in a FREE annual Spay Day event
  •  I live near an assisted living facility for the elderly where my toddler and I can stop in after a morning walk to visit with residents for 15 to 20 minutes
  • A running race relied on volunteers to support the event that raised funds for disabled veterans

     These are simply a few of endless opportunities to make a difference in your community.  Find YOUR Passion!   Leave a comment.  Make YOUR difference in the world…Volunteer!