This is an online resource for the book
The Teenager's Guide to the Real World
by Marshall Brain, ISBN 1-9657430-3-9. The online resources
are offered as a free supplement to the book. They help you access the
huge library of material for teenager's available on the Web. For more
information on the book please click here.
20 Ways for Teenagers to Help Other People by Volunteering
Have you ever thought about volunteering your time to a local charity or community organization?
There are many different reasons for you to start volunteering:
Your reasons for volunteering are as individual as you are, but no matter what your reasons you
can get a lot out of volunteering. You can learn about yourself, learn about others and meet
a lot of interesting people by volunteering. You can help others as you help yourself.
- To help others
- To learn about an activity or organization that interests you
- To beat boredom (if you find yourself sitting around the house feeling totally bored, volunteering in an activity you enjoy can be a great way to change things)
- To overcome a loss you have experienced (one of the best ways to help yourself in a time of loss is to help others)
- To gain perspective on life (there is no better way to understand your blessings than to help people in need)
For more information on volunteering in general and the advantages of volunteering,
see this site.
One of the hardest parts of volunteering can be finding a volunteering opportunity that fits your
personality. The following list will give you lots of different ideas and will show you many
different possibilities. Look in your local area until you find a volunteer position
that works for you.
- Homeless Shelters
If you live in a city of any size, then there is at least one homeless shelter that helps
homeless people with meals, beds and other services. Most homeless shelters welcome volunteers
and have a variety of programs through which you can get involved. You might help prepare
or distribute meals, work behind the scenes in the business office, help organize a
food drive to stock the pantry, etc. You can learn more about the problem of homelessness
and ways you can help by looking at this site.
Look in the phone
book for a local homeless shelter if you are interested.
- Food Banks
Food banks often work with homeless shelters, but they also serve poor people living
in the community (especially around the holidays). Food banks collect
food, manage their inventory and distribute food to those in need. The following
link shows you the different volunteer opportunities available at
food banks around the country:
Any food bank will offer similar opportunities in your area. Look in the phone
book for a local food bank if you are interested.
- The Guideposts Sweater Project
If you would like something to do in your spare time at home, one innovative
way to volunteer is to get involved in
The Guideposts Sweater Project,
sponsored by Guideposts magazine.
People around the country knit sweaters that are then sent to needy children around the world.
This article gives you a description
of the project and a pattern for the sweaters. Don't know how to knit? Not a problem, because
the article also links to sites that teach you how!
- Ronald McDonald House
There are Ronald McDonald Houses around
the country - almost every major city has one. The idea behind all Ronald McDonald Houses
is very important. When a child is seriously ill, the child is frequently treated
for long periods of time at a hospital or university medical center. Many families
have to travel long distances to get to the hospital, and "where to stay" becomes
a problem. Staying at a hotel becomes extremely expensive, and a hotel can be a lonely
and sterile place. Ronald McDonald Houses provide a low-cost "home-away-from-home"
for parents and children to stay during treatment. Volunteers help prepare meals,
talk to families, take care of the house and so on. The programs offered at
the Dallas Ronald McDonald House are
typical, and you can read about volunteer opportunities there. Then call the
Ronald McDonald House in your area to find out more.
- Special Olympics
As described on the web site for Special Olympics International,
"Special Olympics is an international program of year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with mental retardation."
The site also describes a wide variety of volunteer activities, including
sports training, fund raising, administrative help, competition planning and staffing, etc.
Look in the phone book for a local office or search the
Special Olympics Web Site for more information.
- Habitat for Humanities
Habitat for Humanities builds and gives houses to poor people in local communities.
Volunteers not only help others, but can learn a great deal about building houses
by getting involved. See the Habitat for Humanities web site
for more information. Call the national office or your local office for information about volunteer programs
in your area.
- State Parks
Many state parks offer volunteer programs, and in these programs you can try anything
from educational programs to trail construction and maintenance.
This site for the North Carolina State Park system shows some of the possibilities
available. Contact a state park near you and see what options are available if you
- City Programs
Most large cities offer a wide range of volunteer opportunities.
Look in the phone book and call around
to see what might be available where you live. [Do not be discouraged if
your first few calls seem to hit a brick wall. Many city governments are
large and fairly disorganized. Keep calling around until you find someone
who understands what you are talking about and who is willing to help.]
- Helping Others Learn to Read
When you think about it, reading is one of the most important skills
an adult can have. Many adults, however, have never learned how to read.
Literacy volunteers act as tutors who help illiterate children and adults
learn this important skill.
There is probably a literacy program
in your area. See also
Reading Is Fundamental (RIF).
Many hospitals have volunteer programs to help patients both inside and outside
This page for the Summit Medical Center
is typical. The volunteers programs allow participants to explore medical careers and gain work experience.
Contact local hospitals to learn more about opportunities in your area.
Many libraries need help reshelving books, running children's programs, making books
available to the community, and so on. This program specifically for teens at
Phoenix Public Libraries
trains teen volunteers to assist library staff and the
public during the Summer Reading Program. Contact a local library for volunteer
opportunities in your area.
- Senior Citizens Centers
Many senior citizen centers offer volunteer programs to provide friendship
and community activities to senior citizens.
If you would like working with senior citizens,
call a senior citizen center in your neighborhood and see what
kinds of volunteer programs they have available.
- Animal Shelters
Many animal shelters are non-profit or government organizations, and therefore
they welcome volunteers to help take care of animals, keep facilities clean and
work with the public. Call a local animal shelter for more information.
- United Way
United Way is a nationwide umbrella organization
for thousands of charitable organizations. The United Way raises billions of dollars and
distributes it to these charities. There are local United way affiliates across the country and
they need volunteers. Contact your
local affiliate for more information.
- Red Cross
The American Red Cross helps people in emergencies -
whether it's half a million disaster victims or one sick child who needs blood.
Volunteer opportunities exist across the country.
Contact your local Red Cross for more information.
- Salvation Army
The Salvation Army provides social services,
rehabilitation centers, disaster services, worship opportunities,
character building activities for all ages and character building groups and activities for all ages.
Volunteer opportunities exist across the country.
- Environmental Organizations
The Sierra Club (and numerous other environmental groups)
encourages volunteer support to help with environmental activities. You can help in many ways:
by helping lobby on conservation issues, by leading hikes and other
activities, or by lending a hand at the Chapter Office. Contact the local office of an
environmental organization near you. See also the Earth Day site.
- Political Campaigns
If it's an election year, there are thousands of opportunities to volunteer in
political campaigns around the country. You can learn more than you imagine by helping
a candidate win election. This
article talks about some of the options. Pick a candidate whose ideas you believe in (either on the local, state
or national level) and
volunteer to be a part of his or her campaign.
- 800 Number Volunteer
Many 800 help-lines rely on volunteers to staff the phones and
handle other tasks. If there is an 800 phone bank in your area,
you may be able to volunteer to help out.
- Web site creation
Many small charities and organizations do not yet have web sites.
You can help by learning how to create a web site and volunteering your services.
You could also raise money to pay for the web site, or seek help from a local
company in the form of a donation. When creating a web site for a charity,
you will want to take care to listen very carefully to the
people who work for the charity to understand exactly what they want
their web site to look and feel like. This will be extremely important to them,
and you should be willing to change and improve the site to match their
mental image. See this page for information on
creating web sites.
Lists of Charities
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