Ask the average adult to use a few words to describe the American teenager and chances are the word "volunteer" won't come up. Yet thanks to the encouragement of your baby boomer parents, an Internet revolution that makes the world feel smaller every day, and a recession which has increased the competition for fewer and fewer summer jobs, you are 100 percent more likely to find teenage volunteer opportunities than teenagers in the last few decades! A survey by UCLA's Higher education Research Institute found that two-thirds of students entering college feel that having teenage volunteer opportunities was essential or very important.
If you are among the thousands of teens navigating through a rough summer job market, don't despair. Teenage volunteer opportunities allow you to have a meaningful, positive impact on your community, gain valuable life experience, learn new skills and meet interesting people. The added benefit of sending a signal to the colleges you're applying to that you can manage priorities, maintain a commitment, and contribute to the greater good is also something to consider.
Before you look around to see where you'd best fit in, ask yourself these questions:
- How much time am I willing to commit?
- Which talent or skills do I offer?
- What would I most like to learn by volunteering?
- What don't I want to do as a volunteer?
After you're clearer on what suits you best, think about the following teenage volunteer opportunities.
You might help prepare or distribute meals, work behind the scenes in the business office or help organize a food drive to stock the pantry.
Ronald McDonald House.
Almost every major city has one, a place for home away from home parents to stay while their seriously-ill child is treated at a hospital or university medical center. Volunteers help prepare meals, talk to families, take care of the house and more.
This international program of year-round sports training and athletic competition offers teenage volunteer opportunities such as fundraising, administrative help, competition planning and staffing.
Habitat for Humanities.
This organization builds and gives houses for people in need in local communities.
Many offer teenage volunteer opportunities where you can try anything from educational programs to trail construction and maintenance.
Helping others learn to read.
Teenage volunteer opportunities include being tutors to illiterate adults and children.
Many hospitals have volunteer programs that allow participants to explore medical careers and gain work experience, while they are being of service.
Many need help and have teenage volunteer opportunities for reshelving books, running children's programs and making books available to the community.
Senior Citizens Centers.
Is it your nature to provide friendship and participate in activities with senior citizens? Hugs and smiles are part of the reward.
Many are non-profit and have teenage volunteer opportunties to help take care of animals, keep facilities clean and work with the public.
You can learn more than you can imagine by helping a candidate win election. Pick someone whose ideas you believe in and find teenage volunteer opportunties within his or her campaign.
Web site creation.
Many small charities and organizations would appreciate your expertise in setting up or improving their image on the Web.
Now search your local phone book, check out your town's Web site, and contact your library, church or synagogue and/or community college to see if they sponsor any teenage volunteer opportunities we've suggested. Good luck!