Learning to think about and finding ways to help others are actions children can take, especially when their parents provide a model alongside them through service. Family volunteerism can foster the development of empathy and compassion for others while strengthening the family itself. Children learn to contribute to important causes, while better understanding what their parents value most. They also gain from feeling proud by participating in the volunteer activity and appreciated by those they are helping. Additionally, children have the opportunity to gain new skills from participating in community service.
Parents, too, can benefit from volunteering as a family. In serving your community together you create the opportunity to spend more time with your children, pass on your beliefs and values and share sincere conversations. As Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, writes “Can you imagine anything more energizing, more unifying, more filled with satisfaction than working with members of your family to accomplish something that really makes a difference in the world?”
As an added advantage, with family volunteering, you will ensure that your children will be volunteering into adulthood. A study conducted by the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service at University of Texas Austin (2002) found, with a sample group of 1,514 respondents, that children who volunteer are more likely to continue to volunteer as adults. In their sample, 86% of college students who had volunteered in or before high school with their families continued to volunteer as young adults compared to 76% who had not volunteered prior to attending college.
How can you and your children get started?
A great place to start is in your own neighborhood. You can reach out to your school, church or synagogue, by asking them if they could use any help with their initiatives. This is a great way to begin because you will be more comfortable in a familiar environment. Another direction to take is basing your volunteerism on a meaningful cause. You can use websites dedicated to matching volunteers with projects through searching opportunities by interest.
To find your next family volunteer activity visit www.volunteermatch.org or www.http://generationon.org, both have great projects geared towards families and children.
Thank you in advance for serving your community!