Volunteering provides a wonderful way to give back to your community. It also gives your kids a personal perspective on some of society's larger issues, such as hunger, homelessness, and the environment. Of course, where and how you volunteer will have a large impact on what your children take away from the experience. Before you pick up the phone, think about the types of projects that would be most valuable for your family. The following questions will help you brainstorm:
Why are you interested in volunteering?
Pinpointing the reasons that volunteering is valuable will help you identify what's most important to your family. Is it to gain awareness of the issues? Learn a new skill? Or simply to give back to the world that's given you so much?
Who would you like to help?
Whether your kids have a passion for animals, an intolerance of trash, or a just healthy sense of social justice, there will be opportunities available to suit their, and your, specific interests. Humans, animals, and plants all need your help!
What does your family enjoy doing?
Do you love the outdoors? Then maybe tree-planting is for you. Can't stop cooking? There's probably a soup kitchen nearby that could use your help. Enjoy the arts? A musical performance or art show might be a hit at your local retirement home.
- What do you want your family to learn from the experience?
Whether it's a sense of responsibility about the environment around them, or an appreciation for all the things they have, volunteering can teach your kids to look beyond their own needs and develop a social consciousness. Learning to recycle, donate, share, and care are just a few lessons waiting to be learned through volunteering. So, what are you waiting for?
Don't just ask yourself these questions... ask your kids! Invite their participation and listen carefully to what they have to say. The experience becomes more valuable for everyone if you take the time to enlist every family member's cooperation and enthusiasm when narrowing down the possibilities. For more ideas, check out www.thevolunteerfamily.org.