On Monday, January 21, 2013, we will be celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday as a national holiday. It seems only befitting someone who spent his life serving others, that it also marks a National Day of Service.
Parents can promote great character building and even tap into hidden talents in their teens by encouraging them to volunteer on this day. There are many agencies and individuals who could use the support of great volunteers.
Volunteers can be critical to the operation of some organizations. Below are some tips to help you and your teen be successful when volunteering.
1. Volunteer with a positive attitude. If you walk into a volunteer experience dredging it or acting like it’s a chore, then you are not doing yourself or those you are working with any favors. Volunteering is about the spirit of giving cheerfully. Implement your tasks with a smile and watch how positively you affect those around you.
2. Complete the tasks that you are assigned to. While it is admirable that you may want to chip in and perform other tasks, make sure you do what you are asked to do first. If you find you have additional time or finish early, then check with the person who is supervising you to see what extra tasks you can complete. Don’t take it upon yourself to work in another area without permission.
3. Be prompt and stay for your entire shift. While volunteers do not get paid, the jobs they perform are just as important as those of an employee. Many agencies rely heavily on volunteers to complete tasks and when they do not show up, or stay the entire time, it can hurt their operations. Be considerate, and maintain your commitment.
4. Select projects in areas that you are comfortable working with. Every volunteer opportunity is not for everyone. For example, if you are not comfortable working with homeless people, then you probably should not volunteer in any shelters or other agencies that offer services to the homeless population. Remember, volunteering should be a pleasant experience for all those involved.
5. Use volunteer opportunities as learning experiences. Talk openly with your teen about the things learned or observed as a volunteer. Discuss the importance of how it may impact you personally and any thoughts you may have. You may learn some things about your teen you didn’t know.
Volunteering is a wonderful opportunity for you and your teen to spend some meaningful time together sharing in important work. It is also critical to remember that while the National Day of Service is important, volunteer work is year round. Take the time to discuss the importance of serving others and ways that you as a family can volunteer on a regular basis.
I’d love to hear about your volunteer experiences. If you’d like to share, please post in the comments section. Happy Volunteering!!