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Family Volunteering - Volunteering sets an example
Volunteering sets an example

Volunteering as a family goes a long way in teaching our children to be sensitive to the world around them. A family that combines its efforts to help a cause benefits by development of stronger bonds of togetherness, kindness, caring, and love.

A common misconception about volunteering is that it requires formal association with a non-profit. However, since volunteering involves gestures intended to give back to the community, when there are 2 of you or you have a big extended family, if you combine efforts to help others, such a gesture is volunteering! Where not-for-profits easily come into the picture is in their initial support and guidance for the family undertaking, while being in the position to receive family volunteering contributions and maximize their benefits.

There are many benefits to volunteering as a family, but here are 5 to think about:

1. Pre-adolescents and teens cultivate positive values such as empathy and develop a
commitment to service, both, now and in the future;
2. By participating in volunteer activities, young people feel appreciated and respected,
as well as learn new skills in the process;
3. Parents will be able to spend quality time with their children in a positive
environment, while serving as role models, leading by example, and passing on
important values;
4. Families increase domestic cohesion, well-being, and together establish
connections to the broader community in a healthy, positive fashion;
5. Family volunteering comes ‘free of charge’, yet it pays huge dividends in many ways.

The combination of ages and generations within a family means they
have everything at hand to make meaningful contributions to the community: energy, creativity, passion, knowledge and experience, as well as different perspectives and skills.

When the family volunteers together, it helps children of all ages grasp the important human values of being kind and helping others. Exploration and planning of volunteering activities are wonderful opportunities to talk to your child about volunteering itself and how you, as a family, can help make the world a better place! Also, when families volunteer together, it helps to build a better communication among family.members.

When you explore and plan, it is important to understand what sorts of volunteering opportunities are better suited for the entire family. A bit of research can help you find activities that are particularly suited to your family. Keep in mind when you consider your children's ages, that you should think about where they'll feel welcomed and where their skills can best be put to use.

Volunteer MBC has put together a list of Volunteer activities that a familycan do, while keeping in mind age as an important factor:

Ages 9 & Under

Plan to work directly with your children to guide and encourage them (plus keep an eye on them). In that way, you will share tasks, outcomes, and later easily talk about and mutually learn from the experience. Among more common volunteering projects that embrace families are food and clothing collections, putting together items that help those in shelters, cleaning up the environment, helping less capable neighbours, and craft projects that assist the needy in your community.

Ages10 to 14

Look for opportunities where your middle school (Grades 6 to 8) children can have more independence. You don't necessarily have to work side by side, plus it gives your child a chance to demonstrate more responsibility. Ensure any supervisory role you do play enhances your child's experience and strengthens their increasing independence. Consider community events. These are ready made for family participation.

Ages 15 & Older

Opportunities open up as teenagers progress towards the age of majority. In Ontario, your child will be required to perform community service as part of their high school curriculum. Ask your child how you can help, especially with creating a volunteering ‘profile’ with Volunteer MBC. Teenagers also may need help with scheduling and transportation.
How involved you are as a family at this stage is a bit of a judgment call, but if there’s a history of volunteering together in your family, continuing to team up should definitely remain a significant option, with the scope of activities markedly expanded.

Volunteer MBC sees ‘family volunteering’ as a viable, legitimate trend in the volunteering world of the 21st century. When family members in our fast-paced, complex society often run on different schedules (work, school, meal and leisure time, even sleep!), getting together to volunteer has assumed great importance. We encourage you to exercise leadership by taking the initiative, a step will is bound to enhance your family’s health and wellness, while making tangible, possibly far reaching differences in your community.

Written by MarComm
Written by MarComm