At this time of year, lots of parents think about getting their young children involved in volunteering. And, while the holidays can be an excellent time to start, don’t worry if you miss this opportunity in December. You can walk this talk any time of year.
My own parents set the tone for me, volunteering at church and school events. I got involved in my local community as a young teen and continued through high school. Then after a break and once my child was in kindergarten, I decided it was time to get back to giving back and start setting an example.
I also wanted my only-child to experience life from the viewpoint that it wasn’t always about just him. I chose an area of interest – literacy tutoring – and found myself at the library every Monday night. If, for some reason, my husband was not available at home, the kid came along with his own books, crayons, etc. I continued as a volunteer and eventually became a Court Appointed Special Advocate with ProKids for children in the juvenile court system for abuse and neglect.
The result? As a teen, my son became involved as a volunteer at the YMCA. As a college student, he spent a spring break in New Orleans cleaning up after Hurricane Katrina and then served a year in AmeriCorps following graduation. As a grad student, he has chosen a school in a city far from home so that he can be more involved as a volunteer around climate issues. And he could end up in the Peace Corps one day. So yes, your example will likely create a lasting impression on your children and a sense of passion for issues that concern them. You just may end up amazed at the direction it leads and proud of the passion you have instilled.
Looking for volunteer ideas that fit your interests? Visit www.uwgc.org/volunteer or call United Way 211 (dial 2-1-1).