By Lavonne Kroeker, PHEc
Many families would say they are strapped for time so encouraging them to volunteer as a family seems counterintuitive. However, volunteering together is quality time – not time spent in separate locations or in the same location without any interaction. There are so many options out there and different possibilities available for all ages. I read recently about a mom and tween aged kids who volunteered together with their grandparents to paint houses in a poor neighbourhood. Friends of mine are planning to travel to Mexico with their family during spring break where they will be working on a building project and providing programming for young children.
One the best outcomes of family volunteering is that new volunteers are created in the context of family. If children see their parents volunteering and start volunteering at a young age, they are much more likely to continue volunteering into adulthood. New experiences can be instrumental in developing a child’s character and attributes such as compassion, patience, selfless contributions and diligence can be cultivated. In some instances, this exposure may open up the doors to future community involvement or even a future career!
Currently, I am working on camp programming for 8-11 year olds and the focus is on being involved in the community. We are planning hands-on activities that will show them they can easily make a significant contribution to the community. These activities would easily translate to a family volunteering adventure and include:
- making fleece blankets for a family that needs something warm to cuddle with in these winter months
- putting supplies into school kit bags for kids across the ocean
- cleaning the facilities of a non-profit organization
- stuffing envelopes
Consider your community and your availability – see if you can sneak in an hour or two this month to help out and contribute to an organization that could use your help. You will be passing on some priceless lessons to your kids (and chances are they won’t even notice!)
As a professional home economist, Lavonne Kroeker has worked in a wide variety of settings – an adult learning centre, child welfare, private industry and since 2007, as a Rural Leadership Specialist with Mantioba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives. Her job involves “creating leaders” in rural communities – whether its supporting volunteer 4-H leaders, chairing a Safety Day committee, developing programming for women in business or organizing training for farm women, there is never a dull day! Besides her day job, Lavonne enjoys volleyball, biking, creative pursuits and almost any outdoor activity!