Is family volunteering essential today?
Social problems like homelessness, poverty, hunger, and unemployment have increased and are continuing to increase.
So there is a desperate need now more than ever before for a culture of volunteerism to be built in all communities.
I know what’s going through your mind. Life is busy – work deadlines, soccer games, household chores, grocery shopping, laundry … how will you ever find the time to volunteer?
Well, ONE good reason to open your mind to family volunteering is that it will accelerate the personal growth of your family almost overnight.
What is family volunteering
It means starting a family project where you give your time and skills to serve those in need. The payoff is in the feel-good factor.
An example is getting together as a family to prepare and serve a meal to the homeless.
Who needs family volunteers
Volunteers are needed by community organizations to bridge the gap left by government programs.
Family volunteering allows welfare agencies to use the skills of people of different ages and backgrounds. They can then better serve a wide range of people in need of help.
Let’s take an example of a family of 5 – 3 teens and 2 adults. Mom’s a fashion blogger and Dad’s a web designer. The teens excel in academics and sports at school.
This is a family that rivals a fully loaded takeout meal in skills.
Here’s how they could use the combined family skills to serve a local children’s home.
• Update and improve their website
• Design a fashionable T-shirt to start a fundraising campaign
• Start a social media strategy to source funding
• Tutor the kids in subjects they need help with
• Coach the basketball or baseball teams
The gift of volunteering as a family
Imagine giving a blanket to a homeless man who is sleeping under a bridge in temperatures of 10 below.
Imagine a hungry child guaranteed a hot breakfast daily.
Observing the happiness and gratitude these simple acts bring to those in need is a life-changing experience.
When you improve someone else’s level of joy and quality of life, you give your own sense of happiness and worthiness a boost.
You have the power to allow your family to be a part of such priceless acts of kindness by starting the unselfish tradition of family volunteering.
The benefits of family volunteering
Have you tried the wellness shots that are so trendy now?
Well, volunteering as a family is like an immune-boosting wellness shot. You get a high from doing good so that others may benefit.
What’s in it for your family:
– the chance to engage and connect as a family
– the opportunity to strengthen your family bonds
– reinforces the family as a team working to realize a common goal
– you grow values such as responsibility, discipline and compassion
– develop new skills or enhance old ones
– widen your family social circle
So, don’t you think family volunteering ought to be a priority on your To-Do List?
This post gives you simple steps to make your family volunteering project zoom from hopeful to downright helpful.
Overcoming obstacles to family volunteering
OK, the kids may find the idea uncool. The teens may even reject it straight away.
Woo them with stories of the rich and famous who volunteer. Name drop that Angelina Jolie, Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift, and Oprah Winfrey are very into volunteering.
Here are two such celebrities.
George Clooney, the silver-haired star, established an organization called Not on Our Watch to draw attention to the atrocities in Sudan.
First, win the family over. Perhaps a subtle but skillful stab at the family motto.
Also, remind them of how the words, ALWAYS BE KIND TO OTHERS, lightning flashes at you whenever you pass the family vision board.
Well, that is exactly what a family volunteering project is. An opportunity to show kindness to those in need.
Besides, getting your kids involved, especially if they’re teens, is a lasting, character-building gift that they will thank you for.
Even if now they think volunteering in any shape or form is uncool, stick with it.
How to plan a family volunteering project
Planning and getting your project going takes hard work, organization and determination.
It may be a good idea to start small to see how you gel as a family on a project.
Planning and organization are vital to success. Steps to take:
– a family meeting to decide on a project
– take into account the family’s schedules
– brainstorm a list of volunteering ideas
– decide on the activity
– set up a plan of action
Here’s an example of the planning process using the earlier idea of volunteering at a local orphanage:
– Draw up a To-Do list
– Allocate tasks to each member of the family.
– Make a formal offer to help the orphanage
– Brainstorm how you can best meet its needs
– Organize, collect or buy items needed
– Enjoy your family volunteering date
Your project does not have to be so involved. Look first at the needs of the people living on your street and see how you can help to improve their lives.
The elderly and single-parent families are always in need of help. So you could start with them.
Examples of simple family volunteering activities
1. Help the elderly with their tech devices
Give your tech – smart teen a chance to show off by helping senior citizens use their tech devices better.
Start a program like Make Seniors Tech Wise
Many seniors especially those in their 70s are technophobic. They find digital technology – be it a cellphone, tablet or computer – intimidating and complicated.
The ageing process affects vision, hearing, hand-eye coordination. This makes old people fear the very devices that are the lifeblood of your teen. Seniors don’t want to feel stupid and so become wary of or stay away from such devices altogether.
However, there are many benefits of seniors getting to know tech devices like cell phones, tablets, and laptops:
- better social interaction via WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook groups
- mental and physical agility by taking online quizzes
- starting new hobbies with help from Pinterest
- joining age and interest-related online forums
The reward will be the happiness on the face of a lonely grandmother who chats to a grandchild via Skype for the first time.
Or the joy of shopping online for the first time.
Or the thrill of chatting to family on their cell phones.
Seeing the positive impact on the lives of senior citizens is sure to make volunteering as a family a regular event.
2. Start a sandwich drive
We all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But many children go to school without having breakfast.
Breakfast is important for mental and physical health. It gives the body the energy and nutrients it needs to concentrate at school.
The American Dietetic Association states that a child who has breakfast is likely to be more successful at ‘ problem – solving and eye-hand coordination skills. ’
This is a great opportunity to provide needy kids with a packed Sandwich breakfast. A wonderful bonding spin-off for the family too.
Your hearts will swell with pride and compassion when you see the kids’ gratitude for the sandwiches
3. Do a community clean-up
Start a community project to clean up an area that is an eyesore in your neighbourhood. Maybe, it is a garbage dump of litter and discarded waste.
Some shocking facts about refuse :
- plastic bags take 20 years to decompose
- cans and bottles take 100 years to break down
- styrofoam takeaway containers never disintegrate
Keep America Beautiful reports that the taxpayer pays more than
$1.5 million a year to fund clean – up operations.
These statistics demand that communities play their part in keeping the environment clean for future generations.
This cleanup project is a small step towards that goal.
The satisfaction is a pristine, beautiful area that was once a cesspool.
The skills to be gained from such a project are leadership, negotiation, communication.
Most important of all are the many new friends of varying ages and backgrounds you’ve added to your social circle.
4. Homework help
Are your kids straight-A students? Start a homework help project to help struggling students.
Very often a struggling student cannot afford to pay for a tutor to help him catch up academically.
So he finds himself in a vice grip – underperforming but unable to get the help he needs.
Here’s where your family can step up to the plate.
One- on- one tutoring is sure to benefit the underachieving student. A peer is not an authority figure like a teacher and so all barriers to the learning process fall away.
The needy learner is free to ask for help in areas of weakness. Your teen can tailor – make a program to best meet the needs of the struggling child.
The result will be active learning because your teen will deliver the content in simple ‘teen – speak’ format.
Instant gratification from a peer tutor – such as ‘ High fives ’ motivates the student to focus and learn.
This is a win-win situation for the tutor and student.
The payoff for your teen – a sense of pride and in rescuing a student from failure.
Peer to Peer Homework Help on a regular basis makes a wonderful volunteering opportunity.
5. Adopt a grandparent
The old tradition of Sunday lunch at Grandma’s house is no longer practised today.
Nowadays, families are scattered – living in different cities, states and even countries. So many grandparents find themselves living on their own far away from their children and grandchildren.
Not everyone who lives in a retirement or nursing home gets visitors. Some only socialize with others in the same boat as they are. This often leads to depression.
An amazing project to be a part of is Adopt a Grandparent.
Regular meetings with a grandkid – gives the grandparent a friend he can talk to. They could play board games, read, watch movies together or just chat about their lives.
The benefit is mutual. Your family acquires invaluable life lessons as you listen to the story of the grandparent’s life – the problems he experienced and how he overcame them.
Lessons likely to be learned:
• Friendship can develop despite great age differences
• Acceptance – there are cycles in life of joy and sadness. You have to experience sadness in order to appreciate happiness
Family volunteering ideas
Here’s a list of simple activities to get started with volunteering as a family.
Volunteering is tough. It demands time, effort and perseverance.
But the result will be crafting an extraordinary course for your family.
One filled with fulfilment and satisfaction.
Are you ready to create the life you want for your family? Take the first step. Start your family on a volunteering program.
Then sit back and watch your bonds strengthen and values deepen.
Do you have a tradition of volunteering in your family? Share your story in the comments below.
If you enjoyed this post, please help to share it on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook because I need your help to motivate others to do their share to make the world a better place by volunteering as a family.