By Jamie Wilson
“Even if I wanted to help, I just don’t have the extra money to give right now.”
Have you heard yourself using that line? Yes, charitable organizations depend on the generosity of others to sustain themselves, but the current financial shakiness doesn’t mean we can’t help in some way. Most nonprofit organizations need your time as much as they need the monetary donations and its needed all year long, not just around the holidays.
“But I just don’t have the time to give.”
We’re busy and we don’t want to give up any more time away from our families than we need too but showing our children the importance of helping others in our community is an invaluable lesson. My solution… don’t give up time away from your family to volunteer, bring them along. Children as young as 3 years old can be included and many school districts now require community service hours from older students.
Volunteering with your friends and family members can be a great way to get to know each other in a different way or use the opportunity to make new friends with common interests. Volunteering is also a great way to develop personal or professional skills that you wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to do. It can also be a great reminder of who you are, remind yourself that you once used your skills to negotiate business deals and not just nap times. Another benefit, there’s current research that shows people that volunteer are healthier and happier than those that don’t take the time to give back.
For several years I participated in a walk for a nationally known charity. Being a part of the event required a huge fundraising effort as well as a time consuming, physically demanding, training schedule, and although I was proud to be a part of the event and it is a worthwhile charity I felt like I was missing something.
I wanted to see the people I was helping; I wanted to see the progress that was being made.
I don’t actually remember how I first discovered The Junior League although I’m sure it had to do with a late night and Google. When I saw that there were so many opportunities to volunteer through the year along with the added bonus of the social events, it sounded like a great match for me. I’ve been a member now for five years first with The Junior League of Philadelphia and now The Junior League of the Lehigh Valley.
In that time I’ve worked with children’s programs that have taught the importance of good nutrition and how to deal with relational aggression. I’ve seen shelter rooms renovated, community gardens created, and I’ve watched new parents learn the importance of literacy. I’m very fortunate that my experiences with this organization have not only been rewarding but I’ve also made lifelong friends. To my surprise, after years of wondering what I was going to be when I grow up, my work with the League has also pointed my return to the workforce into a whole new direction that I hope I will find just as satisfying as my volunteer work.
I’ll be honest, as much as I enjoy volunteering and the satisfaction I get from helping others, I have ulterior motives, I want to be a role model for my daughter. When she’s older, I want her to be proud of me and what I’ve accomplished and I want her to look up to me instead of the current “it” pop star. I also want her to value helping others and the community just as much as I do. I know I spoil her and I don’t hide the fact that I want her to have every advantage that I can give her; I do however want her to be appreciative of these advantages, and I think including her in my volunteer work is a great start to teaching her about generosity and gratitude.
The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc.
Founded in 1901 by New Yorker and social activism pioneer Mary Harriman, the Junior Leagues are charitable nonprofit organizations of women creating demonstrable community impact. Today, The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc. (AJLI) is comprised of more than 155,000 leaders tackling society’s toughest and most urgent issues. Together the 292 Junior Leagues throughout Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States constitute one of the largest, most effective volunteer organizations in the world. Every year, thousands of Junior League members volunteer their time, energy and abilities to tackle urgent needs in their communities. They work to prevent violence against women and children, promote literacy and early childhood education, improve women’s health, and much more.
Get Your Children Involved
Here are some suggested activities for volunteering with your children. By working with your children they may have the opportunity to volunteer somewhere that normally wouldn’t take anyone under 18 years old as a volunteer. Obviously, a younger child may need heavier supervision with certain tasks but with your patience and their energy a lot of work can get accomplished along with some fun. Go to The United Way’s Youth Volunteer Center at www.volunteer-center.org or www. volunteermatch.org to search on opportunities in your area.
3-5 years old
• Park or playground clean up – children can help collect sticks, pull weeds, or help to plant new flowers
• Draw pictures or make cards for residents of a local nursing homes or hospital patients
• Sorting items collected at a donation drive
6-8 years old
• Park or playground clean up – children can help to collect trash or rake leaves
• Collect items for donation • Make signs or t shirts for fundraising events
9-11 years old
• Dog walking or kennel maintenance for a local pet shelter • Help at a story time session in your local library or read to seniors with poor eyesight, can also record stories to tape • Manning water and food stations at runs or walks for charity
12-15 years old
• Tutoring younger students in school work or helping them improve additional talents like with a musical instrument or a sports skill.
• Teaching computer skills to seniors
• Giving tours at historical sites, museums, or zoos
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