Experience Gained: Teen Volunteers Step Out and Up

Teens today have more options for keeping busy than any prior generation ever had. So why is the phrase, “Dad, I’m bored,” still so commonplace?  With 700+ cable channels, movies on demand, social media, video games (and the list can go on ad infinitum), teen lethargy, boredom and indifference seem to be pandemic.

Perhaps (okay, positively), these things don’t address one of mankind’s most underappreciated basic needs — the need to be of service. Being of service can come in many forms, from mowing the neighbor’s lawn, to house sitting, to opening the door for an elderly lady with a walker. Volunteering, however, takes service to a more formal level that yields many additional benefits.

Volunteering teaches things that young teens have often not learned in other environments. Lessons, such as: living up to commitments, having people (or organizations) depend on them and, most importantly, learning to “do something for others,” just because.

Malina Cernac, a 15-year-old who volunteers at the Butte County Library in Paradise, says she “has learned a lot” by volunteering. As an avid reader, Malina found a volunteer opportunity that builds on her passion to read. “It’s fun and helps people. I love working in the children’s section. The kids are so cute.” Malina says she has learned “to be better organized and to work with other people.” Her volunteer work is teaching her essential job skills that will give her a boost when she joins the workforce, not to mention that it will look great on her college applications.

When asked why more of her friends aren’t volunteering, Malina replied, “I don’t know. It’s so easy to volunteer. It’s fun and keeps me busy. And, let’s face it; Netflix will still be there when you get home.”

Many non-profit organizations, community organizations and charity events depend on volunteers almost exclusively. You can use the skills that you take for granted to help someone else. Need some ideas on where to volunteer?

  • Do you love animals? Ask at your local animal shelter, veterinarian’s office, horse stables or wildlife center (i.e., Turtle Bay) for volunteer guidelines and opportunities.
  • Do you love to read? Check with your local library, book clubs and afterschool childcare centers. Go to a hospice-care facility and read to patients.
  • Are you computer savvy?  Teach computer skills at your local senior center.
  • Do you know someone who has or had cancer? Volunteer for events like the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure or the “Relay for Life.”
  • Do you love sports? Volunteer to coach or help a youth league.
  • Check with your local Boys & Girls Clubs for a variety of volunteer opportunities from mentoring, to coaching, to tutoring.
  • Do you love history? Many museums and other local historical sites rely on volunteer docents and tour guides.

There are many opportunities to volunteer doing something that you enjoy, and, you can also branch out and do something completely new to you. Volunteering is a great bridge from childhood to being a participant in your community. The rewards of helping others are great, and the lessons learned will last a lifetime.

Michael Orr is a small business owner in Paradise and a father of 14-year old triplets and a 4-year old. Integrity, honesty and service to others are paramount principles in their upbringing.
North State Parent
About North State Parent

North State Parent is a free monthly publication that circulates within five California counties: Butte, Glenn, Shasta, Southern Siskiyou and Tehama. Our pages are filled with family-oriented places to go, services and products geared for women and things to do; a focus on parenting, community, health, education, teens, youth, and much more.

Updated: Oct 10, 2017 @ 11:41 am