As we observe the year anniversary of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, we reflect on the loss and sorrow experienced by our loved ones, our country and the world. But from this tragedy and our need to heal, we have also seen a renewed sense of pride in our communities, which has led to an increase in volunteerism. By inspiring, encouraging and coordinating opportunities for students of all ages to be involved in their cities and towns, it will foster their citizenship, knowledge and personal development - as well as create healthier, more productive communities. So, let's get to this month's topic: community service.
What is community service? In a nutshell, it can be described as services designed to improve the quality of life for community residents or to solve particular problems related to their needs. But for those of us who volunteer, we know it's much more than that. The gift of our time is priceless and the rewards are immeasurable.
- Adults should check out each organization thoroughly before volunteering or allowing a student/child to do so.
- Consider the skills you have before you start looking.
- Don't overcommit. Any time you devote should fit into your availability.
- It's not the quantity of time you give, it's the quality.
Benefits of Volunteering
Volunteering offers educators and students many benefits:
- It allows you to help others and give something back to your community.
- It gives you the opportunity to explore a career and find out if it is reallyan area you want to pursue.
- Working for an organization related to your field (or intended field) providesyou with the opportunity to share your skills and experience, as well as develop new skills and receive training in new areas.
- It provides the opportunity to meet people in your field and develop a rapport with them. These contacts can be helpful in finding employment later.
Community Service Resources:
- America's Promise - The Alliance for Youth
This site mobilizes people from every sector of American life to help build the character and competence of our nation's youth.
- Youth Service America
An alliance of more than 300 organizations committed to increasing opportunities for young Americans to serve locally, nationally or globally.
Users can enter their ZIP code, city, skills, interests and/or availability, and then be matched with organizations that need help.
- National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC)
NYLC is a prominent advocate of service-learning and national service for today's youth.
This nonprofit online service is dedicated to helping anyone find a great place to volunteer.
- 20 Ways for Teenagers to Help Other People by Volunteering
As an online resource for The Teenager's Guide to the Real World by Marshall Brain, this site provides a useful list that tells teens about the advantages of volunteering. The site also lists 20 volunteering opportunities suited for different personalities.
Judith B. Rajala, M.A., president and founder of EduHound.com, is an independent education technology instructor and former K-12 educator. She is also a consultant for several Connecticut-based state technology organizations. E-mail: EduHoundExtra@thejournal.com.www.eduhound.com
This article originally appeared in the 09/01/2002 issue of THE Journal.