The summer we loved as children can be fraught with apprehension when, as adults, we view a house full of children through the lens of unstructured time. Last week the blog was about chores and the fun and value that is possible by doing them together. The three points I made and make again, is that we must be prepared to slow down and focus on being together in the moment, provide opportunities to make decisions and finally to keep our work authentic.
The opportunities to volunteering are endless; usually any interest or talent a person might have can be hooked up with an opportunity to serve an organization with a specific need in the community. One of my favorite opportunities is to participate in something physical, such as a fun run, rope jump or bicycle ride. Most fund raisers such as these require more stamina than just signing up. Getting in shape with the goal of stretching one’s current capacity can be fun for the whole family. know one 11 year old who has the on-going goal for riding and finishing the MS 150—a bicycle ride from Houston to Austin to benefit multiple sclerosis. He and his father actively discipline themselves, not only during the summer, but throughout the school year to prepare for this.
There are also volunteer opportunities in the neighborhood where you live: a daily walk picking up trash, throwing newspapers onto porches, baking cookies to give away, hosting a free car wash, collecting games and clothes for a homeless shelter. All lend themselves to a work ethic and personal responsibility for giving back to the community.
Other volunteer ideas might be found in organizations to which a family belongs. Typically, these will have a volunteer coordinator who can suggest ways for family members of all ages to help. Young teenagers might assist a teacher in putting together supplies, gathering materials for projects, reading to children or passing out bulletins.
And then there are the larger organizations that are always in need of help. A quick internet search will turn up ideas for volunteering that you may not have considered. For example, the third Saturday of every month my mother and I volunteer at St. Johns Downtown—a congregation that serves breakfast to the homeless. This past week there were two ten-year old girls who helped serve the food, they had a great time and asked their aunt if they could come back the following week.
While volunteering provides opportunities to serve others, it also builds a work ethic and puts feet to compassion. As an employer, I am always interested in people who have a life-long commitment of service to others.