What is a volunteer? Working in local classrooms and Jewish youth groups, I usually ask teens this question and usually get a vague answer about “helping people who need help.” This is true, but it is so much more. Since volunteering is not a school class topic, its up to you to educate your child as part of their growing responsibilities just as they learn new skills and ideas.
American History and Volunteers
Children learn about the American Revolution in elementary school, and then later about the peace movement and civil rights movement. These and other historical events began by actions of volunteers. Famous people in our history often were notable volunteers: Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere, Clara Barton, and Sojourner Truth are a few examples among hundreds of others. So many famous Jewish volunteers dot history, too, such as Mickey Marcus, Anita Perlman, and Barnard College-founder Annie Nathan Meyer.
Learn by Doing
Research suggests that volunteering is a learned behavior. An Independent Sector report states that “adults who began volunteering as youth are twice as likely to give time as they grow older.” Almost every Orange County synagogue or Jewish nonprofit group offers opportunities for families to volunteer. Volunteering as a family teaches children the importance of helping others and builds memories together. Heritage Pointe, our only Jewish senior community, has many volunteer activities for families with children of all ages. Arts and crafts, board games, Resident birthday parties, and sharing music are examples of family programs.
There are millions of volunteers in the United States and their work holds up the foundation of our society. They help their neighbors, serve their communities, and provide their expertise. No matter what kind of volunteer work they do, your children will be learning to offer their time and talents in invaluable ways.
Ready to start Volunteering?
Visit your favorite nonprofit’s website now! Most religious school programs and pre-b’nai mitzvah classrooms also have resources for volunteering. For more information about Heritage Pointe volunteers, visit www.heritagepointe.org.
Shelly Malmon is the Director of Volunteers and Community Outreach for Heritage Pointe, the only Jewish non-profit senior community in Orange County providing independent, assisted living and memory care services. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org