In part one of this series we explored the reasons why it makes sense for teens to volunteer. If your student has decided to volunteer the first step is to spend some time exploring what is important to them. Is there are particular population of people they feel motivated to help? Or is there a particular concern they have about their community? Some possible areas of interest may include: the environment, children, seniors, the homeless, hunger, politics, literacy, immigrants, low income families, parks and recreation, public safety, libraries, natural disasters, the arts, veterans, and health care.
Students should also consider if they have any special skills they would like to share. A student who plays the piano may enjoy performing at a nursing home or hospital. Teens with strong computer skills may find they can help with data entry or website design. And, of course general labor is always needed by volunteer organizations. Many jobs such as sorting through donated clothing, packing food boxes, or planting trees do not require any special skills.
The next step is to find a place to volunteer. Some parents report they’ve found it challenging to find an appropriate volunteer opportunity for their teens. Many schools now require community service hours and unfortunate result is that in some areas teen volunteers have gotten a bad reputation for just putting in hours without a real commitment. These required community service programs can an put an organization in a sort of glorified babysitting position that has made some leery of accepting teen volunteers. So, your homeschooler should make an effort to demonstrate they are committed to the cause and they will be responsible to uphold their commitments to the organization.
How to Find Teen Volunteer Opportunities
- Contact local community organizations
- Read local newspaper and bulletin boards at the library
- Check social media of local organizations
- Get involved in youth groups where teens volunteer as a group
- Ask friends and neighbors for suggestions
Search for Opportunities Online
Check out Volunteer Match
The Advanced search features offers the option of searching by type of interest. Interest areas include animals, arts, disabilities, safety, disaster relief, environment, hunger, elderly, faith based, and veterans. The site also offers the opportunity to specify volunteer opportunities for teens.
In part three of this series we will explore how volunteering may be relevant to the college admissions and scholarship search process.