Overcoming Reluctance: Realizing the Benefits of Youth Volunteerism (by Nathaniel Bilton)

nathaniel2 Nathaniel3Like many teenagers might react, I wasn’t thrilled when my mother told me there was a new Youth Council group forming in our town of St. Helens and she suggested I get involved. I’m not usually one for social interaction but I went anyway to get my mom off my back. It’s been a few months now of showing up to meetings and attending community events and I have to say it’s been a learning experience. A Youth Council is a group of adolescent students who participate in the community and learn about leadership. In this group, I’ve had a chance to meet a lot of new people, many of which have a lot of great experience that I think I can benefit from, and I enjoy helping out in the community. Even so, now that I have been on the Youth Council, I see one of the problems is just getting other youths involved. The City of St. Helens advertises for the Youth Council but I think there has only been one new person recently. The last community event I attended, I was the only Youth Council member to show up. To get more youths involved, it is important to identify the benefits that come from being involved in the community. The question that has come to my mind, and perhaps yours, is whether youth volunteerism in the community is associated with benefits for youth.

I can say from my experience the answer is yes. A lot of other information supports this idea also. According to Youth Service America, for youth, volunteer work increases the connectedness of youth to the community, as well as decreasing the chances of “risky behavior” of the youth. The volunteer work of the community helps contribute to higher academic success, including better grades in classes (especially English, writing, etc) as well as a higher graduation rate. In addition, youth become more active in the community, even at an older age. Volunteering as a youth also helps find employment in the future. Because of these reasons the youth who participate in community volunteer work will be able to grow into successful, capable adults who are active members of the economy as well as the community.

Read More

Read more at Youth Service America. The benefits to the volunteer as well as the beneficiary organization of the volunteer service is demonstrated in a case study involving European youth volunteers. Read more HERE.

A study conducted by the Corporation for National and Community Service, (fact sheet available HERE ) describes the ways in which youth get involved in volunteering. Through a survey of over 3000 youths, aged 12-18, the study found that social institutions such as school, family, and religious organizations are important in providing connections volunteer opportunities to youth. The study indicated that youth who report doing well in school, who attend religious organizations regularly and who have at least one parent who volunteers are more likely to volunteer than their counterparts.

My own story demonstrates a benefit that participating in the community can produce. I recently volunteered at the American Cancer Society Relay for Life that was held in Scappoose, Oregon. It was a rainy Saturday and much earlier than I would have liked to get up but I had committed to attending as a Youth Council member. At the information booth, I met Nancy who was the volunteer coordinator. She had me running some errands and later I watched the information booth while she attended other duties. After lunch, Nancy was talking nearby to another person about losing a loved one to cancer. I chimed in that a long-time family friend had just died of leukemia the previous weekend. I told her my grandma had cared for him while he was dying and that he died sooner than expected. Her body language and facial expressions were sympathetic. I could tell that she knew what my grandmother had gone through. She told me that she had taken care of her mother who had died of cancer also. She gave me a Relay for Life T-shirt to give to my grandmother that says “caregiver” on the back. I thought it was really nice of Nancy to be so open and kind. She thanked me and gave me a volunteer t-shirt which was reserved for the Relay for Life folks and asked me if I would like to join them again next year. I knew she was grateful for my participation and I was glad for it. I didn’t realize when I dragged myself out of bed in the morning that I would become personally involved in the American Cancer Society organization and members, but I did and I felt good about the little role I played there.

Youth volunteer opportunities are available from small, local areas to the international level, such as through the United Nations. Chances are, there is a Youth Council in your area that you can join to learn about ways in which you can serve your community. You will be better for it.

How to Get Involved

St. Helens Youth Council

Contact:          St. Helens City Councilor Keith Locke

Email: keithl@ci.st-helens.or.us

Mobile:                       503-369-0575

City Voice Mail:         503-366-8219

Annotated Bibliography

Corporation for National and Community Service. Building Active Citizens: The Role of Social Institutions in Teen Volunteering. Brief 1 in the Youth Helping America series. Washington, DC. November 2005

This article describes youth volunteering. Its information comes from a survey of over 3000 youths between the ages of 12 and 18. This article was written by the CNCS or the Corporation for National & Community Service. This article connects to my essay because it is includes information regarding youth volunteering.

Esra Erturan-Ogut E. Physical Culture and Sport. Studies and Research. Volume 64, Issue 1, Pages 71–85, ISSN (Online) 1899-4849, DOI: 10.2478/pcssr-2014-0028, December 2014

This article is a case study of European youth volunteering in the European Voluntary Service. It is a study that used a variety of methods to collect the information. It found that there were benefits to the volunteers as well as the others involved in the sports organization. It connects to my essay because it includes information regarding youth volunteering.

“Why Youth Service?” Youth Service America.

This article is mainly a list of facts about the benefits of volunteering for the youth itself though it backed itself up with its own sources. The benefits include those that benefit youth socially, academically, and personally. The article was written by Youth Service America. It connects to my essay because it provides information on the benefits of youth volunteering.


One comment

  1. Maranda

    I really enjoyed your writing. You are absolutely correct. My sister volunteers through the both the community and through her church and our mother volunteers as well. She does very well in school.
    Getting involved in our community is extremely important. I personally feel that if someone in your family volunteers, that the kids will too. My daughter has become involved in the church and helps out when she can. I feel so proud to see her doing that!

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