Answers from YouthZone
Community service offers young people a connection to their community, as well as personal benefit. I have the honor of running the Teen Pal Mentoring Program at YouthZone. This program provides teenagers an opportunity to be a one-on-one mentor to a younger child. Through this program I am constantly amazed at the depth of caring and giving teen volunteers possess. My experience is that teens who have grown up in a family that values volunteering and giving back to their community are the first to volunteer. Families, teenagers, and kids of any age can volunteer in so many ways. Let me share a few ideas. Elderly people in our community often need a little assistance with chores. With a little supervision from their parents, kids can shovel snow, rake leaves, wash a car, do some gardening, clean a room, or do a grocery run for their elder friend. Elderly Care Centers often allow people to come in and play cards, read, paint fingernails, write letters, sing or play an instrument for their residents. If your child wants to volunteer to help other children you might consider some of the following options. Do a garage sale and provide school supplies for a child. Give the supplies to your child’s teacher and they can give them to someone who needs them. Local hospitals may welcome you and your child’s efforts to read to or play games with their pediatric patients. One of our family’s personal favorites is to select an Angel from the LIFT-UP Angel Tree at Christmas and make a special shopping trip to buy a gift. At YouthZone, we offer the Teen Pals mentoring program. In the program teenagers provide one-on-one mentoring to younger children. The commitment is three hours a week for nine months. The opportunity offers countless benefits for both the teenager and the youth they mentor.Our local schools often have many opportunities for family volunteering. Your family could select a day each year to clean up the playgrounds or do some repairs. You and your children might like to bake a bunch of goodies and take them secretly to the teacher’s lounge for a nice surprise.It only takes eyes of compassion to find families in your own neighborhood that could use a helping hand. Families can provide a welcome basket to new neighbors, help people who are moving, offer baby-sitting for a single mom or dad for an occasional evening to themselves, help with pets when a neighbor is on vacation, or take dinner to a family who’s “cook” is recovering from a hospital stay.There are many ways the community would welcome a family’s volunteer service. Hold a family brainstorming session to determine how you would like to volunteer in the community and then be creative in sharing your talents to help others. I promise it will be a fulfilling time for each of your family members! Patty Schaffner is Teen Pal Coordinator at YouthZone.
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