April is National Volunteer Month: Resources for Getting Involved

Image: https://volunteer.leadercenter.org/life-and-legacy-president-george-hw-bush

George H.W. Bush officially made April National Volunteer Month as part of his Points of Light Foundation. All politics aside, George H.W. Bush worked hard to empower the American people to make a positive difference in our communities, states, countries, and our world by serving others. As he famously stated, “We can find meaning and reward by serving some higher purpose than ourselves, a shining purpose, the illumination of a thousand points of light…we all have something to give.”

I agree 100%. Volunteering can benefit everyone involved – especially the volunteer. My job here at The Connecting Link allows me the flexibility to volunteer in my children’s classrooms each week. After school hours, I also serve as the PTO Vice President of their school. My fellow PTO members and I host family events, such as BINGO Night and school dances that strengthen connections within the entire school community. We also organize fundraisers to raise money for things like supplies needed by teachers and playground equipment. I experience a great sense of joy and fulfillment by being involved in my children’s school as a volunteer.

Volunteering can also benefit students by giving them valuable teamwork and social experiences as they work with others to complete tasks, problem-solve, follow directions, and communicate effectively. Volunteering also helps students with building confidence and self-esteem as they begin to prepare for adulthood.

So how can you and/or your students get involved as volunteers? Outlined below are several resources to help you get started.

Volunteer Match provides a handy tool that helps volunteers find in-person and virtual opportunities specific to their location, skillset, and interests. As noted on their website, “Volunteer Match matches inspired people with inspiring causes. It’s how volunteers and nonprofits connect to achieve remarkable outcomes.”

Image: https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/?v=true&onloc=false

Studies show that making meaningful connections with others can make you feel happier and reduce stress. On that note, food pantries are often looking for volunteers - use this resource to search for a local food pantry in your area. For animal lovers, like me, animal shelters are always looking for extra help. Check out The Humane Society of the United States for opportunities in your state.

There are also a number of virtual volunteer opportunities for teens and adults. Be My Eyes volunteers help individuals who are blind or have low vision with their daily tasks through a smartphone app. As described on the website, “Blind and low-vision users can ask for help with tasks ranging from explaining the color of a shirt, to navigating unfamiliar surroundings, but no matter the case, your assistance allows them to lead more independent lives.” Volunteers must be at least 17 years old to participate.

Smithsonian Digital Volunteers get a close-up look at history by transcribing field notes, diaries, ledgers, logbooks, currency proof sheets, photo albums, manuscripts, biodiversity specimen labels, and audio recordings to help make historical documents and biodiversity data more accessible. Volunteers must be at least 14 years old to participate.

Whether in person or online, volunteering can be a rewarding experience that makes a powerful difference in the lives of others, even if it’s only one. The Star Thrower story by Loren Eisley is a powerful reminder of just that.

Happy National Volunteer Month, educators! Please share how you and/or your students plan to get more involved as volunteers this month and beyond.

Jill Rockwell
Jill has over 13 years of experience as a licensed teacher in the areas of Special Education, Reading Education, and Health Education. She embraces diversity and has worked with students in grades K-12 in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and California. Jill completed her Master of Science degree at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls while teaching full time. She fully understands the soaring demands of today’s teachers. Her courses are designed to maximize the time of all educators by providing engaging, meaningful, and applicable activities which can be used to enhance teaching practices. She focuses on research-based best practices and technology integration throughout her own instructional practices. Together with her husband and two young boys, Jill enjoys traveling, biking and the changing seasons of the great outdoors in Wisconsin. 

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