What better time to talk about serving your community than National Volunteer Week? Teens not only show compassion and empathy for their favorite causes, while they learn to lead and boost their college resumes in the process.
Research shows that teens who volunteer are happier and feel more connected to others in their community. We encourage you to get out there and volunteer!
Here are 7 easy ways you and your teen can volunteer this week:
- Animal Shelters
Local animal shelters almost always need volunteers. You can be a dog walker, do administrative work, or even be a pet soother. Fostering an animal is also a wonderful way to give back. Volunteer Match has a lot of animal based volunteer opportunities and you can also visit the Humane Society for a list of shelters near you.
- Food Banks or Soup Kitchens
Food pantries and soup kitchens can always use a hand organizing a local food drive or serving hot meals to those in need. FoodPantries.org and Feeding America is a great way to find a place that needs volunteers!
- Community or National Parks/Beaches
Go outdoors and enjoy the scenery while helping to clean up at the beach or local park. Try Volunteer Clean Up to find activities near you.
- Red Cross
You can give blood, or you can volunteer with the American Red Cross. They have a youth sign-up form on their website.
- Local Libraries
Libraries usually need help organizing the book shelves, helping kids with their homework, and special events like book signings and special programs. Libraries, also, typically have a summer reading program where teens can volunteer to read to the younger kids over their summer break. Check your local library!
- Retirement Homes/Senior Centers
- Champion Your Own Cause
Care about the drought? Children in war-torn areas? A specific disease that’s affected a friend or family member? The opportunity to make a difference stretches as far as your imagination. DoSomething.Org has some great examples of do-it-yourself service projects.
So, BE the change you want to see in the world!
To join Lion’s Heart and get handcrafted, local, teen-friendly volunteer opportunities sent right to your inbox, click here. We inspire teens to have a positive impact in their communities through leadership and participation in volunteering, providing needed resources for causes that ignite their passions. To learn more visit us here.
Written by Steph Hicks, Lion’s Heart Digital Marketing and Creative Director. Steph has two teenagers and two furry mutts and loves to read, paint, and volunteer in her spare time.
Harness your high school volunteering habit into real rewards on your college expenses.
As many of America’s 20.5 million college students would attest, education does not come cheap. But there may be a way that you can learn more about your community, gain valuable skills and potentially save money on your college tuition — simply by volunteering your time and effort.
Students who participate in volunteer projects throughout their high school careers are often able to receive better scholarships and other grants that support community engagement and activities. Consider the ways that volunteering could benefit you, your college costs and your future career.
How volunteering helps
When you have the chance to shine, your passion and success follows. Spending time at a local animal shelter, retirement community or hospital can earn you both experience and accolades on your college application.
If you have an idea of what you want to study at university, consider volunteer opportunities that can both diversify your experience and qualify for scholarships or grants that could ease your student loan burden.
Volunteering in college
Once you’ve started college, you may be able to find time for opportunities that give back to the community and make a difference to your financial bottom line.
For instance, if you’re already considering joining the military, you can set yourself up to cutting down on costs by joining the ROTC — or the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. The ROTC helps you pay your college tuition while you serve your country. ROTC provides scholarships of up to $80,000 toward tuition and educational fees for students who enroll during college or in high school. It can also assist you along your career path, helping you excel and save on expenses throughout college.
And don’t underestimate the impact volunteering can have on your future employers. Volunteering can make you more hireable in an area of service that you’re passionate about, showing real commitment to your community. You’ll gain skills that are important when working with a team, getting to know the unique issues that people in your city face. You’ll be potentially working toward leadership positions, building skills that are highly prized by employers when deciding among new college grads.
But it doesn’t have to be just another tactic to fleshing out your resume. Volunteering for organizations within your major can provide experiences that dovetail with your studies, enriching what you’ve learned in the classroom, better preparing you for your chosen career.
What you can do after college
Whether you need to pay off student loans or pay for continued education at a reduced cost, post-college service opportunities abound.
AmeriCorps is a group of volunteers sent to locations around the US to teach, support at-risk communities and work within some of America’s poorest neighborhoods. AmeriCorps volunteers can receive a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award after fulfilling their term of service, which can be used for paying off student loans or advancing your education.
National Health Service Corps
If you’re pursuing a career in medicine, National Health Service Corp volunteers provide medical care to rural communities and communities that lack qualified health professionals. The NHSC offers scholarships for students who are still in medical school, and helps medical professionals who have already graduated pay off student loans after they’ve fulfilled their service term.
The Peace Corps gives students a way to volunteer around the world while keeping an eye on graduate school. Volunteers can serve while pursuing a master’s degree program abroad and participate in the Coverdell Fellows Program, which provides financial assistance to volunteers who want to volunteer in the US. Just ensure you don’t lose out on the offset with high fees associated with moving money around while volunteering overseas, compare providers to find most cost effective options.
Consider student loans
Whether choosing to offset college through volunteering during or after college, keep in mind that while a huge expense, college is one that will pay off in the long run. To do this it helps to look ahead at the return your investment and work out whether the career you pick will support the level of debt you’ve accrued to get there. finder.com recently broke down the value of a student loan against potential future earnings based on LinkedIn’s Top 20 Highest Paying Jobs of 2017.
What we found is that it’s worthwhile to figure out whether your future career has a good return on investment — and that student loans can help ease some of the financial burden until you make good on that ROI.
Remember, it’s never too early — or too late — to start volunteering with a group or organization that you’re passionate about. You just might be able to both change your life and save money in the end.
Written by Michelle Hutchison. Michelle is finder.com’s resident Money Expert and is passionate about helping Americans make better financial decisions. She has been in the financial services industry for over seven years and has previously worked as a journalist and editor.
Who is finder.com?
finder.com is a personal finance comparison website, which helps Americans compare financial products online so they can make better informed decisions. Visit finder.com to compare and learn about credit cards, mortgages, personal loans, international money transfers, life and travel insurance, shopping coupon codes, and so much more before choosing the option that best suits their needs.
Best of all, finder.com is completely free to use. We’re not a bank or insurer, nor are we owned by one, and we are not a product issuer or a credit provider. We’re not affiliated with any one institution or outlet, so it’s genuine advice from a team of experts who care about helping you find better.
We were curious. Teens and parents often stumble upon Lion’s Heart in their quest to find volunteer opportunities. They soon realize we have a full-fledged teen volunteer program where teens volunteer throughout the year, year after year. Students join Lion’s Heart because of a strong desire to give back to their community. But now more than ever, many students also have a class, graduation, National Honor Society, or another form of community service requirement.
That got us thinking. How far reaching are student volunteer requirements? Is this a private school tradition or has it hit mainstream public schools? How do students find volunteer opportunities? Do they track their hours? If yes, how? And looking to the future, how does their contribution reflect upon them as prospective college students and employees?
So we asked. Lion’s Heart surveyed over 100 students, parents, and educators to understand how students are expected to navigate their community service requirements. Based on the manic cycles of our phones, chat lines, and email inquiries, we had a sense that students weren’t getting the support they needed. But frankly, the results which represent public, private, charter, magnet and homeschools, surprised us.
How encouraging, we thought. Schools of every kind are embracing service learning as an essential part of a students’ overall education. We couldn’t agree more. But how are schools finding teen-friendly volunteer opportunities for their students? The short answer – students and their parents are giving their favorite search engines a workout to find community service projects.
An opportunity for more opportunities. It’s not always easy to fit another activity into an overcrowded schedule of academics, athletics, music, friends and, and, and…. Students, along with their parents and educators want variety and frequency. Of those who chimed in, 52%, think weekly community service opportunities are the right cadence, while 38% feel they can get by on monthly volunteer notifications. In the minority were the remaining 10% surveyed who felt seasonal – fall, winter, spring, summer – volunteer projects were the right speed.
Paper. Yes, paper in 2017. How community service is memorialized is no less curious. A shocking 57% of students use a paper tracking system, and 12% rely on a makeshift system like Google Sheets. Only 8% of students have an app or online solution to record volunteer project details.
We learned a lot. But we’re more curious than ever about the barriers students encounter when they try to give back to their communities. And because we’re all about inspiring a new generation of teen volunteering, count on the Lion’s Heart team to address some of these gaps. Our survey is ongoing. If you are a student, parent or educator and want to share your experience, click here.
Amy von Kaenel –Lion’s Heart Chief Strategy and Development Officer
So you’re ready to change the world. Wouldn’t you love to have other great teens join you?
Here are some great tools to help you spread the word about Lion’s Heart so others can join you in volunteering together!
1. Let your friends know about Lion’s Heart on social media. Use these posts to get you started. Feel free to edit and use your own words too. We’ve even included some fun photos that you can use when you post.
- Facebook – Want to help me change the world? I just joined Lion’s Heart and I would love it if you would join too so we could volunteer together! A great thing about Lion’s Heart is that they help us find places to volunteer and we can choose our favorite causes. Visit Lion’s Heart to sign up. @lionsheartservice #givingback #teenvolunteering
- Instagram– Want to help me change the world? I am now a Member of Lion’s Heart and I would love it if you come join me when I volunteer in our community. Visit Lion’s Heart and sign up with me! #Teens #givingback #communityservice #teenvolunteers #highschool #teen #friends #giveback #lionsheartservice @lionsheartservice
- Twitter – Help me change the world. I just joined Lion’s Heart and will be volunteering with other teens. Sign up with me! @lionsheartorg #teenvolunteers #givingback
3. Share this YouTube video with other parents and teens. In less than 7 minutes they will learn all the important things they need to know about Lion’s Heart.
4. Visit our store and order free brochures that you can give to your high school counselors, parents and friends.
Any questions? You can visit our website and use the chat function or call us at 800.894.8877, ext.108.
Freshman year of college: I am eagerly sporting a gray hoodie and my favorite pair of ragged sweat pants- the official uniform of college students. I am sitting at a small circular table, surrounded by my three roommates. The smell of greasy pizza is complemented by roaring voices finding their foothold in this new environment of autonomy. I hear muffled giggles from the table next to us, and see a throng of girls hovering over a phone. The laughter seemed to reverberate across the entire cafeteria, as I see a wave of people pulling out their phones. Immediately, I know there has been another post on a popular mobile app that enables students to write anonymous comments about other people. Lately, the mobile site had been full of posts targeting a handful of specific students, whose names I came to know from the chatter revolving around this app.
I was shocked that at a university priding itself on a dogma of “any person, any study”, students were being targeting based on their differences. But, I also thought about how easy it would be to pull up the app on my phone, share a few laughs with my roommates, and go about my day. There were no parents around to scold me, and no teachers threatening to confiscate my phone. But, at the same time, if there are no adults to cast disapproval upon the bullies, who is there to protect the bullied? From a young age, we are taught to involve adults when we witness an act of bullying. But, what happens when we become the adults? And, what happens when adults are targeting other adults? By asking these questions, I began to realize the social responsibility that befell myself, my friends, and my peers.
As a college student, I believe that myself and most my peers are aware of what bullying looks like, and have been given resources to turn to if we find ourselves a victim of harmful behavior. However, in an age where increases in bullying are accompanied by rising numbers of mental illness among children and teenagers, we must act to stop bullying before it occurs. The power of prevention lies within our responsibility to be an active bystander- to take steps to prevent destructive situations, even when we are not the victims.
Three years later, as I enter my last semester of college, I am still baffled by the amount of damaging behavior being targeted towards other students. However, I am confident that by learning to become an active bystander from a young age, we can combat these recent trends in bullying and cultivate an environment where children and teenagers can grow up with confidence, and enter adulthood without fear of discrimination.
To change this reality, we are encouraging all high school students in Orange County, CA to join us for a student-led bullying prevention training taking place next Monday, January 16th, 2017. For more information and to sign-up, please visit: http://whoozin.com/7VH-DR4-T7AE.
Written by Carly Eubanks, Lion’s Heart Team Blogger
Carly is a former Member of Lion’s Heart and currently a Lion’s Heart intern working on our National Bullying Prevention Campaign. She is a senior at Cornell University studying Human Biology, Health & Society, with a minor in Health Policy. Interested in biological/microbiological sciences and healthcare systems, with a passion for research and humanitarianism.
It can be so frustrating when you are trying to pick a major and everyone says, “Just follow your passion!” – Yeah, absolutely. You’d love to do that but you don’t even know what your passion is! So, where do you start on such a HUGE life decision? Just remember the famous words of wisdom from Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu who said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Take the first step on your journey to change the world by starting with these 3 easy things.
- Start to Figure Out Who You Are
The first step to finding what you are passionate about is figuring out who you are. Discovering who you are is a life-long task and is constantly changing. I always hated being told to “describe yourself in 3 words.” With over 170,000 words in the English language, how can I pick only 3?! Everyone is more than just 3 words. We are all different kinds of adjectives and nouns. We have many strengths, attributes, and talents, many that we haven’t even discovered yet. The only way to discover them is by stepping out of your comfort zone.
One way to take that first step is to take an online personality quiz. Oprah.com offers a quiz based on personality science and identifies information to give you the best shot at fulfilling your potential http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/Who-Are-You-Meant-to-Be-Self-Assessment-Quiz_1.
Another way is to find something that you love. But you’re not sure what you love? Try volunteering. Go out and work with animals, seniors, special needs kids, sports, veterans many other causes. Join a group like Lion’s Heart to help you find opportunities to volunteer with groups like the ASPCA and animal shelters, the military or something as simple as tutoring young kids. Lion’s Heart makes it easy to go out into the community to experience and explore what you are interested in or even to try something new. You’ll never know what you love until you try it all!!
- Have the Right Attitude
Let’s just say that you have a big test next Friday in your history class. Even though you spent hours studying, you really believe you are going to fail it. If you go into the test thinking that you are going to fail, you probably will. Stay positive and you just may surprise yourself.
The same thing applies to finding your passion. If you are always telling yourself “I’m never going to find what I love.” Then finding it will be almost impossible! It is essential to keep a positive attitude. Assume the position of knowing you CAN do what you want with your life, if you do then you are half-way there!
A great way to help keep this positive attitude is to find a role model. Whether it is a family member, teacher or coach, look for them everywhere. Find someone who followed their passion and look at how they did it. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Be inspired and copy it.
- Be Curious
When you are looking for a major that you are passionate about, be curious. Seek out all the information you can. Consider all the factors that go along with it. Anything from employment rates to work load, it all matters. To start your search, check out these websites!
Finding your passion is a journey within its self. It may change as you change. Just remember to always believe in yourself, enjoy the journey, and follow what excites you.
Written by Allie Butler, Lion’s Heart Team Blogger
LAGUNA HILLS, CA–(Marketwired – November 23, 2016) – Lion’s Heart, a national non-profit organization dedicated to mobilizing teens to volunteer, continues its 2016 technology innovation push with the help of many ‘Tech for Good’ industry leaders.
Earlier this year, Lion’s Heart launched the Volunteer Digital Portfolio, a web- and mobile-based platform that tracks each volunteer’s community service impact from middle to high school. Each portfolio prominently highlights the student’s top causes, Presidential Volunteer Service and Lion’s Heart Awards, and leadership roles. It’s designed to be compatible with both the Common App and new college applications, and can be downloaded and shared with college admissions officers, prospective employers, and scholarship or internship sponsors.
Throughout 2016, Lion’s Heart has worked with or received support from technology foundations and Corporate Social Responsibility programs within Atlassian, Google, Microsoft, Salesforce and Tableau. Taproot Foundation consultants have generously donated their talent and time to help the Lion’s Heart team maximize the impact of technology grants. Lion’s Heart plans to launch a new version of the Volunteer Digital Platform next year which will include location-based volunteer notifications and user-driven volunteer preferences. “We recognize the catalytic role technology plays in connecting and engaging teens with causes in need of their compassion and time,” said Terry Corwin, Founder and Executive Director of Lion’s Heart, “Our technology partners help us amplify our impact.”
About 70% of alumni Members utilized their experience with the organization on an employment or internship application. Additionally, 81% of the program’s alumni Members believed that Lion’s Heart was a positive factor in helping them get accepted into college. The new Volunteer Digital Portfolio offers volunteers a valuable tool to showcase their volunteer and leadership experience and utilize these accomplishments in their professional and academic pursuits.
Lion’s Heart currently has thousands of Members nationwide serving in over 81 cities and 17 states. Lion’s Heart Members have completed approximately 600,000 hours of community service since the organization’s inception in 2004. Lion’s Heart’s mission is to inspire teen volunteerism and cultivate a new generation of leaders dedicated to creating a positive social impact. In addition to providing Members with meaningful volunteer opportunities, Lion’s Heart also aims to prepare its volunteers for higher education and future careers.
About Lion’s Heart
Founded in 2004, Lion’s Heart is a national 501(c)(3) non-profit teen volunteer organization available to 7th through 12th grade students. The organization instills the value of community service in its Members, providing meaningful life skills through leadership opportunities and philanthropic experiences. Since Lion’s Heart’s founding, Members have performed approximately 600,000 volunteer hours, which equates to more than $12,000,000 in societal value. Corporations interested in supporting teen service learning through technology or other grants can visit www.LionsHeartService.org/CorporatePartners for additional information.
Lion’s Heart, headquartered in Southern California, has grown to more than 81 chapters across 17 states and is actively expanding its reach by regularly adding new chapters across the country. Groups have between three and twenty teens and are organized by gender, grade, and location. Though each group has a parent Class Coordinator, the Members elect their own officers, lead their own meetings, and decide how to serve their community – with no fundraising commitment. For more information, please visit the Lion’s Heart website or Facebook page.
December Days of Giving!
Many assume that the college application process begins the fall of senior year. That’s when you should start writing your essays, prepare for any required standardized testing, and visit the universities you’re interested in. While that’s true, most of your college application has already been completed before senior year even begins.
Your college application is a summary of everything you’ve accomplished in high school academically and personally. The AP classes you’ve taken, or the IB courses you’ve selected, give an indication of the field of interests you may be attracted to. Your extracurriculars reflect what your personal interests are, and where your passion lies. In other words, when senior year rolls around, picking up additional extracurriculars or stacking up volunteering hours won’t add any substance to your applications. Just like you shouldn’t lie about who you are in your personal statement, don’t do anything just to impress the admissions officers.
For Lion’s Heart members, your dedication to volunteer work and the support you provide to your community will immediately be clear to the admissions team at any university. Demonstrate the impact it has had on your personal and professional development. What has it inspired you to do? What have you learned by volunteering at an animal’s shelter? Or at a hospital?
It’s easy to fall into the trap thinking that the “volunteer work” personal statement topic is overdone, but if that’s what best reflect who you are, you shouldn’t let that stop you. Take a look at how other’s have done it before you and be inspired to craft the best version of your application. We have curated 3 different packages of 5 successful application profiles that feature personal statements written on volunteer work.
Choosing which university to apply to is difficult. Make an informed decision by using AdmitSee’s searchable database of successful application materials, including essays, test scores and advice.