Thursday, November 4, 2010

Last-minute Volunteers

Most volunteer jobs require training or some commitment, but you can feel good in a heartbeat by just paying attention to those around you. That's what three sophomore students did for me today. I was swamped, and nearly in tears this morning to think the job before me would last into late night hours, after the family dinner and birthday party for my stepson Logan. The day whizzed by, I tried not to notice the clock as it crept closer to 3:30 p.m. That would be time to go pick up supplies for the dinner and pick up my daughter from her job interview and head home at rush hour.

First Elizabeth was determined to alphabetize a stack of 200 letters. She had so much "fun" that she asked if she could invite her friend Adriana. They both decided it would be faster if Jennifer joined them, so we started an assembly line of the papers to be delivered. First sorting, then stapling, folding and taping. The girls enjoyed bantering back-and-forth, with me chiming in whenever I had a clue what they were talking about. The sweetest part was when Jennifer asked, "Don't you have any help to do this? Like, what would you do if we weren't here?" I told her I had already planned to take it home and stay up late, knowing the papers had to be delivered to 200 students on Friday morning. "Wow," she said, "that makes me feel really good that we could help."

And that's all it takes to feel good sometimes. Just pay attention and be willing to lend a hand if you've got some extra time. The girls stayed with me for fifty minutes--just long enough to sort through most of the papers and to be ready for tomorrow. As we finished the birthday dinner at my house tonight, I took my dog Maxie for a walk, caught a falling star, and packed my bag for a weekend getaway. None of this would have been possible without the help of my last-minute volunteers at school today!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Students Do Make a Difference by Volunteering!

Students at Palo Alto High School documented more than 17,000 volunteer hours this semester with the President's Award for Volunteer Service! There were 129 recipients Fall semester, with another 75-100 applicants who will receive their award in the Spring. The best part about my job is observing these young people who find their passion through volunteering and community service, contributing their talents and energy with no remuneration to make the world a better place.

Community service and service-learning are important aspects of a balanced education, and it makes you feel good along the way. Find something you really care about, and devote some energy to that by volunteering. Check out the groundbreaking Do Something College Survey, showing the nation's leading colleges look for students who are engaged, who show leadership qualities and creativity in community service--not just students who rack up hours for "credit".

Go to:

Then read
this article from Leif Erickson, of Palo Alto's Youth Community Service. We ALL agree that student-driven, interest-based community service is the way to go.

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