Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things
Volunteering at a local charity or nonprofit organization during the warm summer months can build character and provide lifelong lessons for your child. Studies show that children who volunteer at an early age are more likely to volunteer as adults. Children and families who volunteer together report improved grades and strengthened leadership skills and are exposed to new career opportunities that they may not have been aware of previously. Here are some ideas to get your child engaged in the process.
Together, as a family, create a list of volunteer groups or charities that are of interest. Start by talking about what interests your child, and with a little help from the Internet, you should be able to create a list in no time. Sites like Idealist.com can help you find local and national organizations that are looking for help. Another site for ideas on where to volunteer is VolunteerMatch.com. This website matches your location with specific interests your family has. It then compiles a list of appropriate organizations according to the information you supply. Once you have narrowed down your list, try volunteering at a different organization each week. By experimenting and volunteering like this, you will soon find the cause that best matches your child’s interests.
Throughout the months, continue to talk with your child about what you have done or seen during your volunteer hours. This is a good way to gauge which organizations will be most enjoyable and beneficial in the long run. Children can be fickle, but it is important that the act of volunteering feel real. Children will know through experience the tasks that are fulfilling and those that are not. Don’t be discouraged if your child loses interest in a particular activity – this is just part of the process. Continue to check in and get updates so that you can make adjustments to keep the experience positive and exciting. This approach will show your that you are interested in his or her work and that you support his or her cause.
The spirit of volunteerism benefits the people around us and the individual within us. It enhances our respect for others, and for ourselves. Some of history’s most influential minds were rooted in volunteerism. One of the world’s greatest heroes – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – described it so eloquently when he said, “Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve.”