Where Can Teens Volunteer?
by Lyn Lomasi, Write W.A.V.E. Media Staff
Does your teen need something to do? Volunteer work is an excellent way to prepare teens for the career world. It also gives them great references for college and an opportunity to make a difference. But where can teens volunteer? My teenager and I have been researching the options to decide which one is best for her. Volunteering is a rewarding experience. But it's important to do all the research and find out which program your teen is most suited to. Many programs have one or two day positions that would be a great way to test the waters in several programs before finding a more permanent one.
Working with animals is fun and rewarding. There are various opportunities for teens to do so. Rescue organizations, veterinarians, horse ranches, and more often allow teens to help out. Call around to the organizations in your area to see who needs help. My daughter and I learned that, depending on age, the nature of the opportunity, and each organization, an adult may need to volunteer along with the teen. Some opportunities may include cage cleaning, dog walking, playing with animals, socializing animals, and more.
Help out the elderly. Nursing homes and assisted living communities may welcome teens willing to help out. This could include a variety of tasks, such as playing games, pushing around a wheelchair, talking, and more. Some of these people will have little to no contact from relatives. Someone just being there to spend some time can make a world of difference for them. Even those who do have loved ones who visit, another visitor can really brighten their day. If there are no such communities in your area, there may be an older person you know who needs help with groceries, walking the dog, washing dishes, and other small tasks.
Pitch in for those in need. Teens can volunteer at sorting centers, soup kitchens, churches, and other organizations that help assist those in poverty or homeless. Each has different rules on the ages of volunteers and what they can do to help. Listings can be found under homeless shelters, food banks, soup kitchens, charitable organizations, and churches. Not all churches have these types of programs, but many do. So if you can't find any shelters or other organizations in your area, call the churches.
Sharing knowledge helps fellow students. Tutoring other students in the subjects your teen excels in may be another option. This volunteer opportunity could be through your teen's school or through a private organization. Call the school first to see what is available there. If there is nothing available at the school or your child is homeschooled, call various educational organizations. Homeschool groups also may have opportunities for students to help each other. Some high schools may even have a class that allows students to help teachers in elementary or middle schools. I attended a class like this in high school and was able to assist a class of third grade students during their literacy block.
Search volunteer match programs. If the above options are not ideal or you have trouble finding them, try a volunteer match program. United Way and Red Cross are two good places to start in every area. They can help you find out some of what's available in your area and help get your teen started. There are also several great online volunteer matching sites that may assist your teen. Simply fill in interests, location info, and more to find the best volunteer programs for your teen. The application process may take place online or in person, depending on the organization.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
11-Year-Old's Story Proves to Kids That They Can Make an Impact if They Try
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
Note: This is an older piece I originally published in 2010 via Yahoo Contributor Network. However, Olivia Bouler is still at it in even bigger ways.
If you met Olivia Bouler, your perception of things might change. She saw an opportunity and seized it. What's so unique about Olivia is that she is just 11 years old. Right now, Olivia is on tour to make a difference in her own way. When the oil spill happened in the gulf, Olivia made the decision to donate 500 bird drawings - one for each of the first 500 people to donate to the Audubon society to help. I recently was able to speak to this amazing little girl and feel her story is one all parents can use to teach their kids to stand up for what they believe in.
Putting Thoughts Into Action ("One Small Thing Can Make a Big Difference.")
Since the initial decision, Olivia has come out with a book called "Olivia's Birds, Saving the Gulf." All of the writing and illustrations in the book are Olivia's own. Those interested in following Olivia's efforts can follow her Facebook page, suggested by the Audubon Society.
If you thought the drawings are where Olivia's story ends, you would be very wrong. She has won several awards and even participated in beach cleanup with Disney's Friends for Change with Nick and Kevin Jonas of the Jonas Brothers. According to Olivia, "My parents have always loved the environment. I've grown up in a very big-hearted family. Very loving brother, parents, and grandparents." Her efforts don't stop at a few small things. Although, as Olivia said to me "one small thing can make a difference."
How Parents Can Use Olivia's Story
Over $200,000 was raised through her efforts at the time I spoke to Olivia. Parents can talk to their kids about what she has done by using her Facebook page, reports on what she does, as well as her book. I found her illustrations to be beautiful and her words to be so inspiring. I have used lessons from Olivia's actions to teach my own kids.
But don't end the lessons at simply looking up the information. Let your kids put their dreams into action. For those interested in helping the environment Olivia suggests to start with "just throwing birdfeed or saving your food items to plant trees, recycling, everything - even just a little cup of water outside for the birds. It's one step at a time and you can could change the world."
What is Olivia Up To?
In addition to her book coming out and doing her drawings, Olivia Bouler made 2010 ASPCA Kid of the Year. She's currently on a book tour. As part of this, Four Seasons is flying her to Costa Rica to distribute books to schoolkids and read them. For that, she received a grant from Disney Friends for Change and the Youth Service of America . Four Seasons is footing the bill. Olivia is also a recipient of the Dale Earnhardt Legends Leadership Scholarship and a Dawn Jr. Wildlife Champion.
Is Olivia just a normal kid?
This is likely a question your kids will want to ask. Of course, she's a normal kid, just like any other. Everything you do doesn't have to be amazing. It's great to make a difference, but kids will still be kids. Olivia likes to play jazz music via her alto saxophone. She says her brother is pretty amazing, too. She also swims at the YMCA and does other things normal kids do. She does of course get tons of fan mail on Facebook. But underneath all that, she wants other kids to know that she is just like them and they can make a big impact, too.
Lyn Lomasi is founder and owner of the Brand Shamans Content Community. Services include ordained soul therapy and healing ministry, business success coaching, business success services, handcrafted healing jewelry, ethereal and anointing oils, altar and spiritual supplies and services, handcrafted healing beauty products, and more!
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