Working Together: Community & Family

Getting your family involved in community work has wonderful benefits. It is well known that when people are interested in supporting their community by doing volunteer work and other significant acts of good will, communities thrive.

Not only that, people who volunteer usually feel good about themselves and the work they do. When committing time and effort to an organization or a cause you feel passionate about, you gain a sense of accomplishment.

When families volunteer together, it helps strengthen family ties. Children learn responsibility, making and keeping commitments, being punctual, and doing their very best. They also learn working together helps to improve the community.

The following are some ideas to help in determining what type of volunteer work your family may be interested in. Volunteer jobs are endless and there are many other opportunities where families can use their skills Some organizations may require certain information. For example, when working with young children, a background check is required.

Young Children:
• If they like animals, they can assist at an animal shelter
• If they enjoy cooking, a soup kitchen may be a place where they can help and hone their skills
• If they enjoy being with children, they can play with children at a homeless shelter
• If they enjoy being outside, they can participate in a neighborhood or adopt a block clean up
• If they like to read, they can read to younger children who may be bedridden or sick
• If they enjoy gardening, they can help plant flowers or trees at a designated local site

• Become involved in renovation or repair efforts for low-income residents
• Work at a community food bank
• Help walk animals at the Humane Society
• Assist at hospitals or clinics
• Work on a campaign of local politicians
• Help in an adopt a block clean up
• Help at a nursing home, spending time with residents

• Assist the elderly for various organizations that serve seniors
• Help with churches and other religious affiliations
• Aid local Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts
• Partner with schools to help in classrooms or read to students
• Aid the American Red Cross
• Help local food pantries – stocking shelves, helping patrons, etc.
• Assist at local museums – organizing programs, working with computers, etc.
• Participate in a neighborhood or adopt a block clean up.
• Provide services at health care agencies, such as sitting with patients, reading to children who are hospitalized, helping with clerical duties, etc.

There are numerous opportunities to volunteer as a family. You may want to work in the agency as a family, or each family member may work in a specific organization. If finding the time is a factor, your family may choose to do something as a family a couple of times a year.

Before you seek a volunteer position be prepared that you may be asked to fill out an application that inquires about your interest and skills, hours available, transportation needs, why you want to volunteer, etc. Working with children generally requires a background check. This is routine for everyone who volunteers to work with children.

As a volunteer your family will not only do a great service for the community, but it’s also a fantastic opportunity to meet diverse people and broaden your horizon!

by Janice Gilmore