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Homeschool lessons abound with volunteering for non-profits


Ginger is one of many cats rescued by For Pet

Summer is a great time to let your kids explore their interests within the non-profit sector of your community. The wonderful aspects of various organizations are more than I will discuss here, but I do want to write a few words on the benefits they give to our children and their homeschool education.

We have reached the one-year mark for our daughter’s involvement with a local non-profit, For Pets, that promotes low and no-cost spays and neuters in companion animals and general pet care assistance. Our daughter has always loved animals (she hopes to attend veterinary medical school). She searched for ways to help, but at 12 years of age she could not find organizations that would let her volunteer at such a young age.

For Pets, however, because it was just starting, embraced any and all offers of assistance, and encouraged her to help in their appearances in parades. Last summer and those parades were the launching point for a year’s worth of dedication that has snowballed into a wonderful learning experience.

She began attending board meetings and offering valuable and fresh ideas. Soon she took over the creation and management of the For Pet’s web site. In order to do this, she had to teach herself HTML code (she received a book for Christmas on the topic).

This now 13 year old has been taking the paper records of the organization and creating a database for them, again something she had to learn first in order to accomplish this goal. She has fostered needy and ill animals, requested and received donations from large pet food manufacturers (another ‘class’ in business letter writing), and she attended a conference at a local library for non-profits on the topic of grant seeking.

There were many times throughout the last year where I was able to tailor her curriculum to the projects she was working on with this organization. Every subject from computer science, marketing, business communications, writing, and more were covered with this opportunity. She was so eager to continue her efforts with For Pets that there soon became few boundaries between what appeared to be ‘school’ and ‘volunteering’ and ‘life’.

As we are now preparing for more summer parades and an information booth at the county fair, a new activity for the organization that my daughter has developed, I am reflecting on all of the lessons learned. Beyond those that might appear on a report card, I see the big lesson for me as a homeschool mom. Encourage your kids to find and follow their passions. Homeschooling is the most amazing way to let your children do this, and when they can develop their own academic skills and personal character within the context of a non-profit, then everyone wins. Even if they have four paws instead of ten toes.