The benefits of families volunteering together are substantial. Of the adults, teens and children who volunteer about 75% report being more physically, mentally and emotionally healthier than those who don’t. They have lower levels of stress and are better able to manage it.
Volunteering can teach life skills such as time management, teamwork, effective communication, goal setting and developing compassion for others. Family members are working toward a common goal, which leads to them functioning better as a unit. They’re more likely to feel that life has a purpose, and develop a deeper connection and commitment to their community, family and friends.
Families who volunteer together may be more productive at and satisfied with work and school. The experience is a good addition to a resume and gives an edge over another candidate who doesn’t have it. And it’s a given that good colleges are looking for more than test scores and grades on applications, volunteering is a must.
In addition to all these benefits volunteering together can also address an on-going issue for today’s families, “With everyone going off in different directions how can we spend some time together?” A sound strategy for getting children and teens invested in it is to get and keep them involved in the decision making, even young children can contribute. Be open-minded to their interests and don’t dismiss nontraditional ideas.
One family, of self proclaimed non-running couch potatoes, organized a 5k walk/run for a son’s terminally ill classmate. They enjoyed the experience so much they do it as an annual event, donating the money to a different charity each year. Another family adopted the local no-kill animal shelter as their project. The 5 year old’s job was “petting coordinator”, which she was quite diligent and serious about.
A Greek proverb states, “A civilization flourishes when people plant trees under which they will never sit.” Families flourish in the same way; think about creating a tradition of volunteering for your family today and a legacy for your descendants of tomorrow.
Nicole Abbott – writer, educator and psycho-therapist