Guest Author - Dominique Jordan
So now that you're in high school, it may seem like everyone wants a piece of your time. More homework. More time spent getting or doing a job after school. More time spent dreaming about getting a driver’s license or permit. More responsibility! And, like many high schoolers, you're required to do a certain amount of community service hours before you graduate.
Being required to do these hours is one thing; figuring out how to get them is quite another. Many teens and parents have asked me just where they can find a place to do these hours. The obvious places are usually full: soup kitchens, homeless shelters, food pantries, roadside clean-up work. Of course, if any of these things interest you, it's always a good idea to call. Just expect them to be full of eager high school aged volunteers like yourself who want to graduate.
So, is it a good idea to think creatively? Absolutely! If you're involved in a faith organization like a church or synagogue, ask if there is anything you can do. Often youth leaders at faith organizations will help out volunteers looking for work. Of course, don’t settle for just anything. Since you have to spend X amount of hours of your life doing this thing, do something you are really interested in.
Below, I have listed by category of interest some creative options that I've offered high schoolers in your situation. Hopefully, it will get your brain cranking to think of even more:
Call a nursing home and ask if you can read to the residents or help them at mealtime. Often older adults in these residences need help feeding themselves.
Talk to the director of your local Senior Center and see if there is anything you can help with.
Do a small walking or biking route for “Meals on Wheels”.
Ask the Senior Center if there is a local home visiting service where you can visit with older adults in their homes.
Volunteer at a local animal shelter (just be aware of whether or not you can tolerate a kill shelter or prefer a no-kill shelter before you commit). There are also often age requirements for this type of volunteering, so ask about that.
Volunteer at other local animal rescue agencies. You can often even find them by species. So, if you like working with Lhasa Apsos, do a web search.
Volunteer to foster an animal (with your parent’s permission, of course) through a local animal rescue agency.
Volunteer at a local veterinary clinic. Make sure this fulfills your school’s requirements (some only want you to spend your community service working for non-profit organizations. If that's the case, you may need to find a free animal clinic).
TEACHING A SKILL THAT YOU HAVE:
Sign up to tutor younger children.
Offer to help with an English as a Second Language class.
Ask your local adult education (GED) agency if they need a tutor.
Offer to teach older adults basic computer skills.
Offer to tutor a younger child how to play an instrument.
Ask your local After School programs if they need help.
Talk to the Recreation department in your town – they maintain parks in your area and may need help.
If you live near a national forest or park, ask the rangers if you can volunteer.
Offer to do a clean up of an area of your town (be sure to contact whoever owns this area. Town Hall is the best place to find this out.)
BUILDING, MAINTENANCE AND REPAIRS:
Offer your services as a janitor or a repair-person at a local non-profit agency such as a mental health clinic, a free health clinic, or a welfare office. Often, they don’t have full funding to hire people to do this work and will really appreciate your help.
Volunteer at a preschool for the disabled.
Offer to do a special activity with children at a Special Needs daycare.
Talk to your local Early Intervention office (they work with disabled children under the age of five) and see if they have any volunteer work for you to do.
Many non-profit organizations have little office tasks that you could do to help them such as:
Answering the phone
Overall, the best way to find a place to do your community service is to ask around, ask really good questions and lots of them. Make sure that the tasks will fulfill your graduation requirements, that the work is something you can do, it is located someplace you can get to and happening at a time that you are available.
Also, make sure there is an adult there who can document the hours you've spent.
Be sure to check out the Community Service thread in our forum for more great idea or to share your own!