It’s more than just hours: many serve for the smiles. Service equates to smiles! No matter the situation, when you walk into a room, someone smiling at you instantly helps you to feel at ease. That same smile offered to those whom we serve can make their day! When Pebble Tossers volunteered at My Sister’s House, two of the teens shared their experience in serving. They learned that you can do something as small as saying thank you and it can make someone’s day. Being a friendly face makes those in need feel at ease and, in turn, makes volunteers happy seeing them happy. Smiles come from knowing your actions and words helped someone. These smiles start a ripple of smiles and culminate in our tagline:- #startingarippleofgiving.
Community service is commonly defined as voluntary work intended to help people in a particular area. However, anyone who participates in community service understands that the benefits are not only one-sided. Serving the community is a mutually beneficial process; those served receive much-needed supplies and resources while those serving develop social and emotional skills that last a lifetime. Developing relationships with those in need teaches compassion, empathy, and brings communities closer.
Communities enjoy benefits far beyond the financial aspects when youth contribute to service projects. Youth who volunteer just one hour or more a week are 50% less likely to abuse alcohol, cigarettes, become pregnant, or engage in other destructive behavior. Youth who volunteer are more likely to do well in school, graduate, and vote (ucnj.org). Young people involved in community service are more likely to have a strong work ethic as an adult. When youth volunteer, adults tend to volunteer also, resulting in a lifelong volunteer community (yumpu.com). The community also gains a generation of young people who care about where they live and are willing to make a commitment to improvement. Teens say the benefits received from volunteering are:
- learning to respect others;
- learning to be helpful and kind;
- learning to understand people who are different;
- developing leadership skills;
- becoming more patient;
- better understanding of citizenship. (ucnj.org).
Overall, youth volunteerism in their communities is a tremendous win-win situation for the young volunteers, the organizations, and the communities they serve. The benefits are reaped now and in the future.
More specifically, there are numerous volunteer opportunities that prove just how beneficial these interactions can be. Youth who work with the elderly develop a deeper sense of empathy for a generation they would otherwise be wholly separated from. It is mutually beneficial as the elder feels connected to society and the teen learns more about the past along with nuggets of wisdom. Volunteers learn to respect their elders, and just walking through the door and being present brightens their day immensely. There is so much to be learned whether they are a family member or not; family history, historical world events, life lessons, generational culture, and much more. The transfer of knowledge between these generations provides new perspectives and creates lasting relationships.
Those who volunteer within the education/literacy area are also able to develop an increased sense of empathy. They can put themselves in someone else’s shoes and begin to understand the diversity of childhoods present in their community first-hand. They develop gratitude for the opportunities they had growing up and connect with members of the community they may otherwise have had no communication with. Volunteering with animals is one of the most enjoyable forms of service. Kids love interacting with animals and animals thrive off of their high energy levels. It empowers and inspires individuals to influence their community in a positive way. The experience helps volunteers, especially young individuals, develop empathy and patience. Helping animals in turn gives back to the community as they are able to become stress relief and service animals to interact with individuals in need. The animals also become better socialized and are more likely to be adopted.
Overall, it is essential to remember that volunteer work benefits both those serving and those being served. Keeping this in mind leaves both groups feeling respected and supported. The skills and developmental assets gained by people who volunteer translates to future benefits for them personally, professionally, and for society. Eighty-one percent of Americans who have volunteer experiences when they are young give to charitable organizations as adults (blog.xap.com). Pebble Tossers is honored to play a part in such a special relationship that brings so much joy to communities experiencing hard times. As members of the Pebble Tossers family, we thank you for serving alongside us and inspiring those around you to get involved. It only takes one individual with a smile to inspire a ripple of giving.