Thursday, March 5, 2009

Volunteer!



Volunteering is an opportunity to make a difference in your life and in the lives of those around you. It’s a chance to apply your skills and ideals toward helping others and meeting critical needs in your community. Organization like Habitat For Humanity, American Red Cross, AmeriCorps, and Peace Corps are driven by volunteers that offer help in times of need. Volunteering can offer leadership opportunities, personal development, professional development, and improved community relations.

During this economic downturn it may seem unconceivable to donate time and skills for free but the opportunities and benefits can be very rewarding. Volunteer benefits can include money for college, grants, loan repayment/forgiveness, job placement, cross cultural development and expanded knowledge of global markets and communities.

I learn the value of volunteering at an early age. My mother worked at the Savannah Association For Blind, Inc.—a non-profit organization that provides rehabilitation services designed to help blind and visually impaired individuals in all walks of life function independently in their homes and in the community. I would volunteer during my summer break and was responsible for setting up recreational supplies, preparing meals, and general office duties. This experience was very rewarding and instilled in me the compassion to help others that I value to date. Getting your kids involved at an early age to volunteer teaches them a valuable lesson of servitude, responsibility, builds self confidence, develop work ethics, and gain valuable job skills. Also, it provides a great opportunity to earn scholarships. Programs like Learn and Serve America offers a unique opportunity for youth to get involved by integrating community service projects with classroom learning. Learn and Serve America provides direct and indirect support to K-12 schools, community groups, and higher education institutions to facilitate service-learning projects and recognizes outstanding youth service through the Presidential Freedom Scholarship, Presidential Volunteer Service Award, and other programs.


Want to travel abroad? The Peace Corps, inpsired by John F. Kennedy in the 1960s, was created to offer individuals the opportunity to serve their country in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries. The peacecorps offer volunteers educational benefits, financial benefits and loan deferment, medical benefits, job placement support, and advantage for federal employment. If your unable to travel, AmeriCorps members address critical needs in communities all across America. Full-time members who complete their service earn a Segal Americorps Education Award of $4,725 to pay for college, graduate school, or to pay back qualified student loans; members who serve part-time receive a partial Award. Some AmeriCorps members also receive a modest living allowance during their term of service.




These are just a few examples of volunteer opportunities available. You can also donate time to a local community group, shelter, non-profit organization, and your church.


-right Michelle Obama dishes out risotto and volunteer spirit at Washington D.C. homeless shelter Mar 05, 2009


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