Volunteering for Teens

By: Sydney Charlene Vance
9th Grade, Homeschool

What are your 2024 summer plans? Music camp? Sports camp? College search? Travelling with family? Finishing the reading requirements or math packet for school way earlier than you did this summer? 

It may sound funny to start thinking about next summer at the end of the summer, but it is a great time to think about trying something a little different.
No I do not mean to try robotics camp instead of field hockey
Try volunteering.

But not just volunteering where you always volunteer.
By the way, thank you for volunteering!

Get a jump start and incorporate researching and observing what is happening in our communities throughout your school year.
Jot down the agencies and a brief description in a document on your iPhone or iPad, post a sticky note on your refrigerator. Paper and pen works too!
Then make a list of these agencies using a system that works for you.
Think about your strengths and what you would like to improve or work on.

Now here is the really fun part…try volunteering at a location that is at the bottom of your list!
Why? Well there is a reason you wrote {fill in the name of the agency here} last. Like most of us, we have disinterests and fears, but sometimes if we tackle what we like the least first, we grow as a person, and in return the agency will have received a volunteer who learned something new and may be willing to volunteer again. You may also be able to help others who might feel the same or do not see the urgency about volunteering at the location and help them understand the needs of the communities the agency meets. 

What if the last agency you listed is last because of distance and transportation? 
Reach out to the agency to see if transportation is an obstacle for others who want to volunteer. Then be creative and see if you can solve that agency’s need. You are not an outdoorsy person, so volunteering at a watershed may not sound pleasing. But drinking and bathing in clean water is! Getting your hands dirty collecting a fraction of the thousands of pounds of trash and recyclables littered annually benefits the entire community. Why not hold a toiletries collection drive, food collection drive or school supply collection drive? So many people find themselves in situations that basic needs like toothpaste and toothbrushes, day to day meals, after school snacks, and pencils and crayons for school pose a challenge. For many families, donations collected lessens the impact on students during the back-to-school season and the individual or an entire family beyond.

If you do decide to follow my suggestion and volunteer at the last agency on your list next summer, I would love to know how it went!
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