Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. -Margaret Mead
I am always amazed and thankful when I see philanthropists making large donations to a worthy cause, but like Margaret Mead, I’ve witnessed thoughtful children and adults giving and changing their world via community service as well.
Where can you go to find community service projects? There are as many opportunities to serve as there are individuals who might need a helping hand. A few years ago, a group was formed that provides homeschoolers opportunities to participate in community service. Homeschoolers Educating, Assisting, & Reaching-out Through Service (H.E.A.R.T.S.) was specifically created to give homeschoolers the opportunity to give to their community. There is no group to join, no forms to fill out, just the chance to help others. They offer suggestions via monthly themes to help you get started.
Community service offers many opportunities to work side by side others in your community and many homeschool families make community service a large part of their lives. Whether you’re interested in working with an activist group, exploring other cultures, or if you are looking for some community service opportunities in your neighborhood, here are some resources and articles that may help you to find one that is a good fit for you.
HEM SUPPORT GROUP NEWS Interview with Laura Weldon
Mary: Do you have any favorite activities that your group has participated in?
Laura: Every year I’ve made sure we had community service activities that were hands-on. We’ve decorated dozens of small straw hats and baseball hats for children undergoing chemo at a local cancer center. We’ve made simple fringed blankets for children in foster care, stuffed backpacks with art supplies for children in a Mexican orphanage, written cards and drawn pictures for chronically ill children, collected toiletries and other supplies to pack in Ziploc bags for distribution to the homeless, that sort of thing. Each time we did these projects we talked about the background reasons for these situations at a level the children could understand. Since we hold our regular children’s meetings in the community room of a local library we often get out books as well to display during the program in case a child is interested in exploring the topic further. It’s important to take part in on-going, regular volunteer work as well and our youth have been very involved in such efforts. It might be interesting to add up the volunteer hours our teens have contributed to the community for an upcoming North Coast Homeschoolers newsletter.
Getting out of the house on a regular basis eases decompression. Most communities boast a host of teen-based activities: 4-H, Scouts, church youth groups, Civil Air Patrol. And there are many adult-oriented groups that may appeal to your older kid, everything from ski club to Toastmasters. Volunteer opportunities for teenagers abound. Check out hospitals, libraries, museums, zoos, radio stations, political campaigns, and so on.
Credentials for Homeschoolers: Problem or Opportunity? – Larry and Susan Kaseman
â€¢ It often pays big dividends to invest time in developing the skills you need to create your own informal credentials. Develop a wide range of personal contacts by getting to know people in your community. Join organizations such as 4-H, Scouts, church groups, and special interest groups such as garden clubs and recreational sports teams. Volunteer at your local public library, a hospital or nursing home, or other places that need help. Participate in community theater and local festivals. Learn to talk to groups by making presentations before groups you belong to. It is impossible to predict who might turn out to be just the contact you need to open a door or who might provide an opportunity you hadn’t even thought of, so it often works well to get to know a variety of interesting people.
Interview with Linda Dobson – Helen Hegener
Chuck (18) now lives on his own in the neighborhood. His two years volunteering at a local, state-run nature center led to his first employment there when he was 16 and attending community college part time. He’s been involved (I mean really involved!) as a volunteer with the local fire department since the age of 14, which led to training and certification as an EMT recently. It’s three months later and now he’s slid into a full-time job as an EMT with the Olympic Regional Development Authority in Lake Placid, complete with passes to all the wonderful events staged at the Olympic Arena!
Transition to the World of Work – Cafi Cohen
Volunteer and Apprenticeship Opportunities
Teenage homeschoolers volunteer in many areas. Most of us are familiar with the volunteer programs in libraries and hospitals and museums. Homeschoolers are wise to look beyond established programs, however. I have known homeschooled teenagers who volunteered with veterinarians, drama groups, political campaigns, radio stations, bookstores, etc. The possibilities are limited only, perhaps, by your location.
“Volunteering with kids in tow can be a wonderful experience. We have been delivering Meals on Wheels for several months now. Our kids (13, 10 and (8) enjoy forming bonds with the folks to whom we deliver. Most Meals on Wheels recipients are recovering from surgery or have other health-related issues. The vast majority are responsive, friendly, and eagerly welcome our children with broad smiles and open arms. If your children like to make crafts, the folks from the Meals on Wheels route would relish receiving them. We have delivered painted mini-pumpkins for Halloween, and refrigerator magnets for Christmas. From meal pick-up to tray return, it takes us about 1 1/2 hours to deliver our meals. I believe that delivering Meals on Wheels has helped our children gain empathy for the sick and elderly, and enhances their ability to communicate with folks of all ages and stages.” — Holly Alexander
There is a nice article in the October 28th Arizona Republic, Roots and Shoots teaches kids to help others that reminds me again of the many wonderful opportunities available via Dr. Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots.
When 6-year-old Alex Hardin of Queen Creek wanted to make a difference and help others, he and his mother, Charlene Hardin, decided to build teddy bears and donate them to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
As part of the Phoenix Roots & Shoots organization, Alex and his family spend time participating in service-learning projects. They are one of 88 families in the Valley that participate in the program founded by Jane Goodall in 1991 to promote care for animals, the environment and the human community.
Beyond the Basics
All across America, homeschoolers – who are frequently separated by religious, philosophical, political, and geographic distance – are joining together in common community service goals. In June, 2004, New Jersey homeschooling activist Michele Pulis established an effort called H.E.A.R.T.S. (Homeschoolers Educating, Assisting, & Reaching-out Through Service) to bring homeschoolers together in a common effort. The purpose of H.E.A.R.T.S. is to unite a diverse group of people in service to their communities – while increasing public awareness and acceptance of homeschoolers and homeschooling as a single focus, unrelated to any other issue.