Inspiration

7 Great Ways to Give Back This Week, or Better Yet, All Year Round!

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:

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  1. 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.

Aaron Regnier Photography

Aaron Regnier Photography

  1. 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!

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  1. 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.

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  1. 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.

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  1. 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!

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  1. Retirement Homes/Senior Centers

Find your local senior center. You can offer to run errands or be a companion for a senior. Check out Create the Good and Elder Helpers.

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  1. 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.

Aaron Regnier Photography

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.

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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.

 

How Volunteering Can Help Offset College Costs

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

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.

Peace Corps

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.

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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.

 

The Challenge Engaging Students in Community Service – It’s Not What You Expect

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?  

alumni-survey-handsSo 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.  

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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, papalumni-survey-girler 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.

Written by

Amy von Kaenel –Lion’s Heart Chief Strategy and Development Officer

Photo Contest

Wanted:

Great action shots of our Members volunteering in their T-shirts.

Prize:

Beats by Dre Solo headphones, you get to pick the color! They come in black, luxe red, luxe silver, and white see screenshot below.

Deadline:

March 30, 2017

Submit:

Please email your good quality photos to socialmedia@lionsheartservice.org by March 30, 2017. Be sure to include your name, chapter and group and put PHOTO CONTEST in the subject line of the email.

Submit as many photos as you like.

Good luck!!!

*The winning shot will be an action shot of a Member or Members in their Lion’s Heart tee shirt while volunteering. We are not looking for posed photos. We want action shots of our Members clearly helping others.The winning photograph will be used in Lion’s Heart marketing materials and the website, although we reserve the right to use submitted photographs, as well. We will announce the winning photo on March 31, 2017 on Facebook, Instagram, our Blog and Twitter.

Lion’s Heart Member Toolkit

Here are some ideas to spread the word about Lion’s Heart:

So you’re ready to change the world. Wouldn’t you love to have other great teens join you? You will need at least 2 more teens of your same gender and grad year to get your Lion’s Heart group started. Here are some great tools to help you get your friends to sign up.

1. Let your friends know about Lion’s Heart on social media. Use these posts to get you started, but feel free to 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

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and our Blog and you can share our posts so your friends see them.

2. 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.

3. 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.

Lion’s Heart Makes the News in Ridgefield, CT.

Lion’s Heart Members in Ridgefield, Connecticut are collecting Valentine’s Day cards for the troops as a way to show gratitude toward American serviceman and women.  The Lion’s Heart Boys Blue 2018 group has initiated a Valentine’s Day card drive, “Show YOUR Love,” and is asking residents to get involved.  We are so proud of all of our Members for giving back to their communities and making a real difference. Read more here.

Top Ten Tips for Bullying Prevention

On January 16, 2017, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, seventy-five Orange County high school students joined with Lion’s Heart and Project Hear Us Foundation to become leaders in bullying prevention.  These students, who represented thirty local high schools, spent the day learning how to battle bullying and became certified to teach other students how to do so, as well.

So, what did we learn??? Here are ten powerful tips that students learned, and that you can use to prevent bullying in schools and communities:

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1. Take a pledge. Make the commitment to prevent bullying and not tolerate offensive behavior.

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2. Be compassionate. Exercising compassion towards others is a great way to form friendships and earn the trust of others. These students from instructor Amy Smith’s class embodied this mindset, and became fast friends.  

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3. Volunteer in your community. Join an organization, such as Lion’s Heart, to spread compassion and empathy while enriching the lives of others and discovering a new sense of self-worth.

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4. Listen to the experts. Anti-bullying leaders, such as Leigh Steinberg, Making Caring Common, and Project Hear Us Foundation, can offer valuable advice on how to approach bullying prevention and stomp out harmful behavior.

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5. Be informed. Knowledge is power.

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6. Look at both sides of the situation. Understanding the perspective of bullies is a challenging, yet vital part of preventing bullying. If you can put yourself in their shoes, you may see someone who is dealing with personal pain. Bullies need someone to understand their issues, and you can be the one to help them through their struggles in a way that doesn’t involve bullying others. 

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7. Pursue your dream. Fearlessly follow your passions and stand up for what you believe in. Being passionate about something gives you a sense of self and elevates your confidence and strength regardless of what is going on around you. Sharing your passion with others may give them the connection they need and the inspiration to pursue their own dreams.

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8. Believe in yourself. YOU can make a difference! Bullying can be prevented by taking away the power the bully has to affect us. Each and every one of us can change the world.

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9. Act without reacting. We learned that reacting online to cyberbullies makes them even more bold.  It gives them an audience.  But, you’re not powerless.  You can take action by printing the offensive screen (before it disappears), reporting them to instagram/snapchat/facebook/etc., blocking the person, or telling a parent or teacher.   

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10. Never ever give up. There are always kids out there who need your help. Who knows, you could make a friend and save a life!

Giving teens a sense of community and belonging, while teaching them empathy and compassion, is a very important step in the fight against bullying. This program has empowered seventy-five high school students to teach bullying prevention in the middle schools- a great first step in eradicating bullying in the United States, one city at a time. Stay tuned!

Photos by Aaron Regnier Photography

Post written by our super amazing interns:

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Carly Eubanks –

Lion’s Heart Team Blogger and Bullying Prevention Event Intern

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.

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Kaelyn Lustig –

Lion’s Heart Team Blogger and Marketing and Graphic Design Intern

Kaelyn is a student at Chapman University in Orange, California with an interest in Advertising, Marketing, Graphic Design and Psychology. She has apprenticed for a freelance graphic designer at LynnRae Design doing projects such as logos, brochures, flyers, playbills and business cards. Kaelyn has an extensive background in the arts, including acting in theater, television, and film along with strong skills in mixed media, drawing, and painting.

 

Bullying Doesn’t Stop When High School Ends

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.

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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.

Pursue Your Passion: A Guide to Finding Your Major

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.

  1. 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!!

  1. 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.

  1. 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!

http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/worklife/10/27/cb.what.major.pays/

https://cew.georgetown.edu/wp-content/uploads/Exec-Summary-web-B.pdf

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.

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Written by Allie Butler, Lion’s Heart Team Blogger 

Social media, Graphic Design, and Digital Marketing Intern – Student at Colorado State University-Pueblo. Majoring in Integrated Communications and minoring in graphic design and marketing.