Community service is a great way to get experience, be proactive about social issues, and stimulate personal growth. It can also help those of you who are attending college out of state become familiar with your new area and meet people who share your interest. There is no better time to do it than when you're a student too! Think about it: You build your own class schedules however you want, and can, therefore, make time for community service throughout the semester; or it can be done over summer or winter breaks. However, since this is unpaid work it is imperative that you find what truly appeals to you. Here are 5 ideas:
- Tutoring: It isn't new information that our public schools aren't doing the best possible job, and here to counteract that is United Way. They are a national organization that focuses on 4 key areas which include improving childcare, family support, early intervention, and public awareness to ensure children are ready to succeed by the time they enter school; improving reading proficiency; successful transitions to middle school; and graduating high school on time. Visit their website to find a volunteer center near you. PS: This would also be great experience for those of you wanting to be teachers or professors!
- Rebuild Homes: College can really take a toll on your body: Unhealthy campus food, sitting all day in class, continuing to sit after class while doing homework…Rebuilding homes for the elderly and needy is an excellent way to absorb some much needed vitamin D and work those muscles again! Some great national organizations to look into are Rebuilding Together and Habitat for Humanity. Now get up and get moving!
- Volunteer Abroad: Although the easiest and cheapest way to volunteer is in your own community, you are certainly not limited to just that. Join CulturalSurvival.org and travel the world, partnering “with Indigenous communities to defend their lands, languages, and cultures.” They also offer trips that fill fall, spring, and summer semesters and it counts as an internship. Launch campaigns with their Global Response Program, increase awareness with FPIC, train in journalism, internet use, content creation, and work at a radio station in the Community Radio Program, help revive dying languages with the Endangered Languages Program, or help provide venues for local people to sell their crafts with the Bazaar Project.
- Environmental Conservation: This isn't your average volunteering-at-the-local-animal-shelter deal. The National Wildlife Federation works across America to protect and restore our natural environment and endanger species. This group offers truly diverse opportunities and would benefit most degree programs (especially anyone interested in government positions!). The NWF lists their work as protecting and strengthening the Endangered Species Act, ensuring agencies abide by animal protection laws, increasing their funds, as well as protecting and restoring habitats, and minimizing threats to wildlife. To find an affiliate near you, click this link.
- Translating/Interpreting: Know another language? Put it to use and volunteer those services! This particular field is helpful for linguists, communications majors, and writers. Christine Schmidt, writer for Languages and Translations, has provided a lengthy list of organizations that specialize in languages. Check out her list here.