Youth Not Volunteering Enough? (Corbin Evans)

corbin.evans-Lutheran ChurchIntroduction

This research paper is based on a theme that I chose for Writing 122 at Portland Community College. My theme is health and wellness, although this research paper has definitely branched off from there and is more about the community work that I also did. I volunteered at a food pantry located at a local Lutheran Church. While I was volunteering there, I happened to notice that there was only elderly individuals working at the volunteer community site. I had many thoughts going through my head at this point; why wasn’t there anybody around my age or younger helping? Where’s the youth, where’s the youth group? It really bothered me, in fact I was struck by the fact that I was the youngest one there, the second youngest was 50 years older than me. This is with at least a 40-60 year age gap between myself and the other volunteers. I plan on interviewing some of the volunteers at the work site to see what they think about this. I will also look at why this is the case and what potential reasons there are for this at different angles. This is a very important issue to consider looking into. It’s not something that’s going to go away.

Become More Informed: A Proposal

We’ve all heard this before. By the time the word ‘volunteers’ is uttered, people in general are already thinking of their excuse or escape plan to avoid volunteering. Excuses like, ‘I have a job, and I cherish my free time’, or ‘I’m too busy’. This is when the elderly or retired people fill in the voids, even after they have given years of service in their careers, raising of families, service to our country, to now be pigeon-holed into the ‘volunteering age group’, no thanks to those who are younger and stronger. It has been my experience this is the case, with the exception of organizations like Scouting, or youth groups that pick their volunteerism roles on a set calendar–oh, offset with pizza and sodas to entice the ‘too busy’. In this society, we have many people who are so unwilling to volunteer even a chunk of time towards volunteering. As some claim, the youth don’t have time to volunteer because of how full their schedules are. However the youth should be more involved, regardless, especially with volunteering and should be more willing to volunteer. The elderly should not be expected to fill in the void when nobody else helps, it should not just be the elderly that volunteer. Young individuals should help out when they can and where ever they can with the encouragement of their parents guiding them, joining some of the elderly individuals who seem to always be helping more than the youth.

The youth should be more involved with volunteering and should be more willing to volunteer. However, the youth have become less and less involved with volunteering in the community. Why is this occurring? Many believe it has to do with what generation people reside from and what they have been exposed to. Whether it’s the greatest generation or generation Z, there has been a significant change that has been going on for a long time. It could be the technology that is impacting the later generations, or it could be a variety of things. However, in the past 20-30 years, a change has never been more apparent. It seems like the youth of today are less willing to help due to conflict of interest. That meaning they simply don’t want to do anything else other than what they have to do. “College kids today are about 40 percent lower in empathy than their counterparts of 20 or 30 years ago” (Smithstein). This could be effecting the moral for wanting to volunteer for a cause. Though, there are many reasons that could explain this, people argue that it could be technology, parenting, or more. The thing is, it’s a combination of things that could be contributing to this. Which in turn contributes to the fact that they are not willing to volunteer. Taking a look at this further, people find and note that the current generation is always on their phone. Which that in itself is selfish. Why is that selfish? Well most people when they’re on their cell phones have a small attention span for anything else that isn’t their phone. Being on a phone is also a type of isolation (or a wall) that’s built up around them. Oblivious to what’s around them, not engaging with what’s around them confined to a little electronic screen. A study at Elon Universtiy showed this from an observation they made: “Findings suggest that students seem to be addicted to their cell phones, with 64 percent of students observed on campus interacting with their device one way or another” (Jones). This kind of upbringing could harbor some selfish traits. All of this could effect the drive for the youth to want to volunteer in general.

There are many contributing factors that could add to this over all issue. Technology could be seen as one of the many potential contributing factors to this issue. However, parenting is a very important factor to consider. There’s always need for incentive and a motivating factor to get the youth to volunteer. It does start at home, with customs and values that are established by the family. Some may say that the United States is a giant melting pot with so many people. All while that’s true, long standing communities and the older generations had and have customs. Although with the mentality that there isn’t an “American Custom” there is customs that are created and accepted in each community. It’s becoming common that America doesn’t have any customs. No customs means, less rules and discipline in a household. With no customs there’s less motivation in the Youth. In a household, there needs to be rules and customs that bring up the youth with values that are worthwhile. According to this source, “The best thing you can do for your teens is to establish clear house rules on chores and homework, and then follow through” (FOCUS). This is an important aspect that needs to be taken into consideration.

Volunteering is effected by how people raise the youth and the environment the youth is raised in that then in turn effects how the youth acts! This goes for the current generations and the past ones. The elderly are from a generation with different values and upbringings compared to today. “Parenting can be a challenge and with all of the world’s influences, it can be downright scary. Knowing what you believe in as a parent and what you want for your children will help you raise them to be responsible and conscientious adults” (Hardy). The thing is parents don’t share these customs that are essential for a youth’s development. Being raised in an environment where youth are encouraged to volunteer establishes structure to a youth’s life. Individuals learn to be helpful and willing to take on some of the most “crummy” tasks. The reward in the end isn’t always something tangible, nor should it be. The reward is feeling the accomplishment of making a difference and being helpful. The older generations see this, they want to give back.

On the contrary, the great sum of people could say that this young generation isn’t entirely at fault when it comes to not being able to volunteer. A lot of the younger youth are burdened with so many other tasks that it leaves little time for everything else. Tasks such as school, sports, and other extracurricular activities. Eventually, many also have to worry about moving out of the house. Time is definitely something that this group does not have a luxury of having. A volunteer from a Lutheran Church said, “They don’t have time to help at the pantry, most of them are either working or are in school” (Mattson). It isn’t easy to make time to help out here when they have either of those conflicting and time consuming things to worry about. The elderly on the other hand have time to help at some of these volunteering events. Also, it could be that some of the elderly have always helped out at their volunteering work site. Still it shouldn’t be just them, but if they have the time to give towards that effort, they can definitely help. The youth do help when they can and they aren’t necessarily lazy as one may think. During the holidays at this Lutheran church, there are quite a few youth helping out at the church with various events including the pantry. Many of the youth also work hard and fast at what they may be doing. One could also say that the youth might even work faster than the elderly individuals on a task. Although, this can’t always be an assumed case, it depends on the individual and what their health is like etc. The youth are very strong workers with a strong ambition.

However, the case found at a pantry at this Lutheran Church would show that a lot less youth are volunteering and the elderly are doing more. As observed, there are little to no youth throughout each year. One of a few individuals there said, “I hardly see any youth here during many parts of the year, there’s been nobody else except many of us who have always done this” (Warrens). These issues are increasingly becoming more common and have been for awhile. As some people have connected it to parenting, it really does comes down to that. Parenting can influence the child and their perspective on life. Parents lead by example and the children follow. As many could say, ‘the apple does not fall far from the tree.’ The children usually become what their parents are and this could be for something better or for worse. Parents need to encourage their children to volunteer, because it is essential for a child’s growth. Torres from The Future of Volunteering says that, “Volunteering can nurture important life skills and values in children … to the process of growing up and, ultimately, shapes the adult that child will become” (Torres). It’s important that the children of this generation are brought about in a manner where they can volunteer. Unfortunately, this is not the case and won’t be for a long time. It’s really cycle of events: ‘Hard times create strong people. Strong people create good times. Good times create lazy people. Lazy people create hard times.’ Most people over a range of generations and time do find themselves a part of this circle.

The youth of today are very different than what the youth were awhile back. Each generation constantly changed according to society and the environment around them. Regardless, the youth need to be more helpful and rise to the occasion with helping others. Some are helpful, however, it would only be a few out of the many that could be helping. The elderly should still not be expected to fill in the voids when they are volunteering. Is it really so much for the youth to take two hours out of the day to help out? When they can help out, the youth should still definitely take advantage of the experience that it’ll grant them. Parents need to encourage this into their youth from a young age and beyond. Maybe, with this the youth will have more empathy be more helpful. Society is complex and is very intricate, though the root of these problems all starts at home regarding the family customs in each family.

Annotated Works Cited/Bibliography

Evans, Corbin D, and Ken Mattson. “What do you see?” 9 Mar. 2017.

This interview was important to do because I needed evidence from the group of volunteers that I was working with that there is an apparent issue with volunteering. These individuals have worked at the pantry for many many years. They have seen who else has volunteered and who has helped out there. Their responses are essential to my paper as it gives first hand evidence that there is an issue.

Evans, Corbin D, and Michael Warrens. “What do you see?” 9 Mar. 2017.

This interview was important to do because I needed evidence from the group of volunteers that I was working with that there is an apparent issue with volunteering. These individuals have worked at the pantry for many many years. They have seen who else has volunteered and who has helped out there. Their responses are essential to my paper as it gives first hand evidence that there is an issue.

FOCUS “Dealing with Lazy Teenagers.” Dealing with Lazy Teenagers, Accessed 10 Mar. 2017.

This source talks about the laziness of many of the teenagers and how to resolve that laziness. This source is important to my research paper simply for the fact that it being on this subject may indicate there “might” be a problem. This site goes into how an individual can get their youth to not be lazy and to encourage them to help out in some area. This source can be trusted because of it being from an organization that looks at many different area’s in a person’s life to where they may need help. It could be parenting (which is also pertinent to this research paper) or it could be about social issues and more. This site helps many families “thrive” according to their slogan.

Hardy, Marcelina. “Importance of Family Values.” LoveToKnow, Accessed 10 Mar. 2017.

This article examines the importance of family values and why those family values are important to the growth of the youth within these families. It gives valid reasons of why this is important for a family to have. It also talks about how family values makes you who you are. The individual who wrote this article has a MSEd. Having been exposed to a significant amount of families, this individual is qualified. This source will go well in this research paper by the fact that it really comes down to how the youth is raised that can determine many other factors; such as the willingness to volunteer.

Jones, Tessa . Students’ Cell Phone Addiction and Their Opinions. Strategic Communications Elon University, 2014, Accessed 10 Mar. 2017.

This source goes into the peer reviewed study of the habits that people have with regards to cell phone use. How I plan to use this source is by explaining how cell phone use is very detrimental to how the youth act and how the youth are. This article is full of studies that individuals have done showing how many people are on their phones on campus. This can carry over to the fact that the youth don’t volunteer because of how the use of phones can effect their personality and how they act.

Smithstein , S. (2010, June 5). Are today’s youth even more self-absorbed (and less caring) than generations before? Retrieved February 27, 2017, from

This source goes into the idea that today’s youth are more “selfish” than other generations. It goes into the reasoning behind why this may be the case. This article also compares this generation with the past generations and what makes them so different and why. The note authority for this source would have to be the fact that it’s from an individual with her doctorate in psychology. This source will show how the youth are different and will serve as good source in my essay. It will also give light to some issues that could dip into other areas; like volunteering.

Torres , G. (2003, December). “The Future of Volunteering: Children under the age of 14 as Volunteers.” The Future of Volunteering: Children under the age of 14 as Volunteers | Serviceleader.Org, Accessed 13 Mar. 2017.

This source goes into the importance of the youth needing to volunteer at a young age. Specifically 14 and younger ages that need to volunteer. This source goes into why it’s important and it gives volunteer programs that are designed for children 14 and under to participate in. This site is credible due to the fact that it’s from an organization that is about but service. This source will be able to back up my point showing why the youth need to help in the community.



  1. Justin Brandon

    I am glad you chose this as your topic because I think this is one of those informative topics that really touches all of us. I feel you have made some very solid points on disparity in the age of those that volunteer. I know for me, I see my parents, who are almost to the retirement age and they love to volunteer places. I think there are some very valid reasons for why they do so much, such as they have more time and they were raised my parents that also did a lot for their communities. Just like you pointed out…when we are young, we learn by following examples. We need to get youth involved younger so they learn the benefits to our communities by paying it forward.

    If there was one thing I think you could have improved I feel like your paragraphs are very long and it would make an easier read if some of the longer one’s were broken up more.

    Overall, I feel you wrote a very very good paper and covered the topic well. Your research and quotes back up your position and you argue it effectively. Good work!


  2. Rachelle Seidel Hunsperger

    Great paper and great topic. I think that most of what I have found is that the elderly like to volunteer more because they are retired and have the time. Most of the elderly volunteers that I know also do it because they like the social interaction and feel the need to give back to their communities now that they have the time. I do agree that more youth need to get involved.

    What is your plan for getting them involved? I have taken my kids to the food back with me a few times to volunteer and they have always enjoyed it and it is a great bonding experience with them.

    I think your paper is well written and your resources look great.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: