Volunteering was part of my childhood. We volunteered through 4H, church and school. My birthday weekend regularly coincided with my 4H club’s annual spring, road-side garbage pick up. Mid-May, the kids in my 4H club donned plastic gloves and black garbage sacks then spent 5 hours cleaning up beer bottles, potato chip wrappers and the odd piece of unidentifiable metal from 20 miles of road. Afterward we’d gather for burgers and dogs and birthday cake. (A co-4H-er shared my birthday.)
Volunteering without kids is like going for your morning run: difficult to get out the door, but once your there, worthwhile. Volunteering with kids is exponentially more taxing. My boys walk rescue dogs at Sean Casey. Even volunteering for an activity they love is trying. (Between homework and baseball there is hardly a spare minute.) Should on boy get a “better” dog than another…I’ll never hear the end of it!
Still…it’s worth it. And it’s not just me.
Experts say that kids who volunteer make better moral and ethical decisions. I certainly don’t litter! My friends who volunteered as a child have integrated volunteering into their adult life. As adults they didn’t necessarily pick altruistic professions, but they give back to their community. And, you don’t have to get dirty to volunteer. You can face paint! Or sell cookies! Or paint pictures with little Park Slopers!
Yes, my kids volunteered with me while I worked the Arts and Crafts Table. I admit, one year I called my husband to take the boys home. As they got older the boys helped younger kids paint pictures and when the boys got antsy, I’d send them on a mission like, “Here is $1. Go get mommy a cookie.” Back and forth they went all afternoon: helping then playing, helping then playing. Volunteering, after all, doesn’t need to be a chore.
If you would like to volunteer at a Park Slope Parents event—with or without your bambinos—let me know. We have room and would love to have you join us. If you would like to volunteer with a different organization, go for it!
Opportunities for kids of all ages
Papoose Volunteers: strapped to mom or dad, the role of a Papoose Volunteer is to supervise and/or distract mommy and daddy. Papoose Volunteers excel as conversation starters. Although they are difficult to drag around, Papoose Volunteers stay in one place.
Toddler Volunteers: unlike their younger counterparts, the Toddler Volunteer, will not stay in one place. The Toddler Volunteer, also called the Hurricane Volunteer, challenge their adult counterparts.
Kid Volunteers: no longer Hurricanes, young Kid Volunteers can help with arts and crafts or sell cookies. Kid Volunteers often “get” toddlers and can help direct that energy.
Preteen Volunteers: toddlers and kids heart Preteen Volunteers. They represent everything a kid wants to be: independent, cool, older. And the Preteen Volunteer is still young enough that kids and toddlers identify with them. In this way, the Preteen Volunteer only needs be present for a successful event involving younger kids.
Teen Volunteers: the Teen Volunteer is a rare species because the time demands placed on this Volunteer. Should the Teen Volunteer have the time, this activity looks good on the college application.
Places to volunteer:
- Prospect Park Alliance
- Coaching—baseball, football, soccer
- Brooklyn Food Coalition
Or find your own place to volunteer: