Are you looking for something meaningful for your teenagers to do over the summer? Or perhaps their high school or college requires community service as a prerequisite for graduation? You need look no further, as numerous volunteer opportunities are available right here in New York’s Capital District.
A Good Match
There are countless nonprofit organizations in your community with which your children can get involved. To get the most out of a volunteer experience, it helps to make sure the cause, time commitment, location, and scope are well matched to their interests, abilities, and schedule. To help the young adults in your life narrow the field of volunteer opportunities, you may want to get them thinking about the following questions:
- Is there a cause that inspires them or about which they are passionate? Numerous worthy nonprofit organizations in the Capital District address issues like animal welfare, homelessness, hunger, literacy and education, disaster relief, disease awareness/prevention, health, children and family services, cultural arts, and the environment, among others. Which of these causes holds the greatest interest for your children? If they’re unsure, consider whether they have had any experiences with a particular cause. For instance, have they seen homeless people in the city park? Did your family or neighbors adopt a pet from a shelter? Is a friend or family member suffering from a disease? Do they know neighbors who lost their house or possessions in a fire or flood? It will be much easier for them to sustain their volunteer commitment if it involves a cause or organization that inspires them or has made a difference in the lives of those they know.
- How much time can they commit to volunteering? Today’s students are busy with their studies, sports, after-school jobs, clubs, music, college and job applications, friends, and social media, to name just a few activities. It’s important to discuss with your teenagers just how much time they can realistically devote to a volunteer position. Are weekend time slots best, or would an afternoon or evening shift during the week be more convenient? Does their school require a certain number of volunteer hours? Is there paperwork that must be completed by the nonprofit organization so their time is documented?
- What volunteer setting would suit them? Do your teens prefer working outdoors or indoors? Would data entry or other “back office” work be appealing, or would they like to work directly with an organization’s clientele? With what age group would they prefer to work? Do your teens have particular skills (musical or artistic talent, for instance) that they would like to use in a volunteer position?
- What do your teens expect from community service? To ensure that your teens’ expectations are realistic, it may be helpful to discuss the motivation for seeking a volunteer position, what benefits they anticipate from the experience, and what challenges they may encounter.
Local Volunteer Opportunities
A host of local organizations in and around the Capital District welcome the help of volunteers. The following is just a small sample of the possible opportunities available, categorized by type of cause. You can also consult resources like VolunteerMatch and The Stakeholders, Inc. to find organizations in your area.
Children, Families, and the Disabled
Disaster Relief and Recovery
Disease Prevention, Awareness, and Support
Education and Literacy
Health, Wellness, and General Community Services
Poverty and Homelessness
Be sure to visit the CDPHP corporate giving site and our calendar of events to find out more about nonprofit organizations and events in the Capital Region.
We make a living by what we do, but we make a life by what we give.
— Winston Churchill
Photo by U.S. Department of Education / CC BY