make a difference
Whether you are passionate about saving the planet from global warming, addressing a social issue like gang violence or speaking up for your peers, you'll find a service opportunity to match your interests here. Click on a link below or in the navigate menu to the right.
The Environment: A list of organizations with a mission to protect the Earth.
Social Issues: From the AIDS epidemic to gang violence and more, these listings will appeal to those who want to help others and their communities.
Youth Voice: Whether you want to be heard online, or speak up for and to your peers on issues that matter to youth, this long list includes local organizations looking for teen volunteers who want to take charge.
Parks, Rec & Cultural Resources: Opportunities abound in the Arlington Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources. Volunteer as an aide in an adapted aquatics class, be special events assistant, help to remove invasive plants from our parks, lead a 4-H club, lead senior adults on bus excursions, and more.
1. Be realistic. It is common knowledge that high school students these days are incredibly busy. If your weekdays are packed, find a volunteer activity that you can do on weekends, perhaps once per month. Lots of non-profits are active on weekends, such as programs that combine sports and tutoring, or those working with the elderly. Non-profits Arlington Food Assistance Center offer special group projects just for young people. Or start a club at your school where you can work together with other students to organize and execute volunteer projects on school holidays. Visit www.dosomething.org for help in planning such projects.
2. Find a volunteer activity that fits your skills or interests. Helping others is so much easier if you are doing something you enjoy. Two athletic, middle school boys that I know volunteered at an after school program at a nearby school once a week to help younger children with homework and then organize games on the playground. Another student who loves to read collected her favorite books from her childhood to give to children in the hospital.
3. Volunteer with friends or family. Many non-profits welcome students who are accompanied by a parent because they don’t have the staff to provide the necessary supervision. When my son was 13, we volunteered as a team to bring our dog, Lasso, to the after school center of a homeless shelter so that the children could read to him. We brought a double folding chair and a stack of books about dogs for a range of readers. The kids waited eagerly for us every week because it was their only contact with a pet. And reluctant readers happily snuggled with Lasso and read out loud to him. It remains one of our favorite memories.
4. Stick with one or two organizations. Volunteer work can be much more rewarding if you take the time to get to know the staff and the cause. As with anything else, there is a learning curve. It takes several visits or projects to understand how everything works. And it’s so rewarding to be recognized and welcomed when you walk in the door. Most organizations understand that you have a busy schedule and will appreciate any time you have to offer. You will find you can make more of a difference if you work with the same one or two organizations over a longer period of time than if you hopscotch around.
5. Help in different ways. Students who focus on one or two non-profits will soon see that they can help an organization in different ways. Many non-profits could use help in the office, especially with organizational projects or computer work. You may see a need for clothes, computers, or sports equipment that others you know can donate. Getting involved in different ways can be very rewarding and will help you to appreciate how challenging it is to run an effective organization.
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Having a hard time finding the right volunteer opportunity for you? Try Volunteer Arlington's searchable database to see who is recruiting help right now.