Teens in the Community

Summer Intern Spotlight: Ariana

This Summer, Lion’s Heart gave 9 Members internships at our office in Irvine, CA.  Each of these interns has a unique story about their community service, passions, and experiences in Lion’s Heart.  Once a week we will be posting a “Summer Intern Spotlight where we share one of the intern’s stories!

Today the spotlight is about the fabulous Ariana!

One of the earliest memories I have of feeling the need to help was when I was in elementary school. My family and I were in our car on the way to see Santa Claus at the mall and were waiting in line at a red light. There was a man walking up and down the sidewalk holding a sign asking for money, food or anything really. I don’t remember what the sign said, but I remember looking at him and seeing my car and all these other cars passing by him, not wanting to make eye contact because if they don’t make eye contact, then they won’t feel guilty about not helping. That man was on my mind all day even as I was sitting on Santa’s lap. That day was the day that I knew I wanted to help that man and all people who were in his position. I already volunteered quite a bit before I joined Lion’s Heart, but becoming a part of a group of girls who thought like me and liked helping others was a very rewarding experience. It also encouraged me to join different community service clubs at my school, such as Team Zissou and Cool 2 Be Kind, because I liked helping alongside other people, not just myself.

Lion’s Heart has opened up so many different volunteer opportunities to me, some that I’m not sure I would’ve been able to do if I’d not been a part of this group. One of my favorite things that my group does almost every year is volunteer at the Aliso Niguel High School dance concert. Our coordinator is a teacher there, so we help them out with whatever they want us to do. One time we took care of some of the little girls who were going to dance on stage, another time we sold tickets, and the next time we delivered the candy grams to the dancers. I love it because it’s fun to spend time with the girls in my group and I like helping our coordinator out. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to help at these dances if it wasn’t for Lion’s Heart, so that’s just another reason I’m glad I joined. I’ve learned to balance volunteering with my personal and school schedule, which is something I’m grateful for, and I hope it will come in handy in college.

Lion’s Heart was a perfect fit for me, and I’ve loved being a part of it for the last three years!

~  Written by our amazing summer intern, Ariana W., who gave her time to help us all summer long! Ariana did everything she was asked to do, including putting up stickers on the wall, attending staff meetings, inputting information on different websites, and helping us with social media. It was great having Ariana around the office!

ariana LH

Summer Intern Spotlight: Brooke

My name is Brooke and I have been a member of Lion’s Heart for 6 years; I am now a senior in high school. Lion’s Heart has helped instill in me not just to help others when it is convenient, but to have a constant desire for service. I have become passionate about always helping my friends and family in any way that I can, as well as helping the less fortunate through service.

In my Lion’s Heart years I have participated in so many different types of service helping various types of people. I have volunteered helping give toys to children with cancer, making care packages for military members, coaching younger volleyball teams, leading retreats for my peers, and endless other opportunities for service that were given to me by Lion’s Heart. My group also helps give each other ideas for our service and that is, in my opinion, the best part about Lion’s Heart. This organization enables teens to help other teens serve their community, creates an environment where everyone is open to sharing their experiences and helping other people have similar experiences. Because of my peers sharing their experiences with me, I have received opportunities to volunteer at places like the Serra Catholic School Harvest Festival and the Jessie Rees Foundation making JoyJars.

Lion’s Heart has not only helped me become the person that I am today, but I know it will also help shape the person that I will become in the future. I now am so much more involved and continue to help others become more involved in my community, school, and group. Without my experiences in Lion’s Heart, I know that I would not be living my life the way that I am today. I now have a much greater concern for what happens around me and I appreciate everything that I am given.

In the future, I see myself continuing my volunteer work that I have started in my middle and high school years. Thanks to Lion’s Heart, I now understand how many volunteer opportunities there are available to me, and I know that no matter where I end up, there will be a volunteer job that is perfect for me.

~  Written by our amazing summer intern, Brooke T., who was truly a great addition to our team!  She was always willing to lend her hand to assist anyone who needed it and excelled at everything asked of her, including editing these blog posts! It was amazing having Brooke around the office this summer!
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In the News: Lion’s Heart Teen Volunteers Honored in Franklin, MA.

In the news! Congrats to our Members in Franklin, MA. for winning President’s Volunteer Service Awards and being recognized in Wicked Local, Franklin news. So proud of their dedication to volunteering and giving back to the community. Great article about some equally great young men and women!

Here is a snippet of the great article about some equally great young men…

FRANKLIN — Nine hard-working members of the Lion’s Heart were recently awarded a Presidential Volunteer Service Award signed by the President of the United States.

The awards are based on the number of volunteer hours served, said Franklin Lion’s Heart Chapter President Allison Bernhardt. Read it here!

Lion’s Heart Members went above and beyond this year and earned a whopping total of 1135 President’s Volunteer Service Awards.

10 Fantastically Unique Volunteer Activities by Lion’s Heart Members

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Curing with the Most Kindness 

Lamorinda, California, girls 2020 group made cards for hospitalized children at their meeting.

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Most Constructive Volunteer Opportunity

Larchmont-Mamaroneck, New York, girls 2020 group helped refurbished an abandoned school in Yonkers, NY.

 

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Coldest Opportunity with the Warmest Thanks

Park City, Utah, boys 2022 group collected and donated clothes for Utah Health clinic last winter.

 

 

 

Most Environmentally Friendly Activity

Larchmont-Mamaroneck, New York, girls 2021 group put no polluting stickers on drains around their community.

 

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Cutest Volunteer Opportunity

Fort Worth North, Texas, girls 2022 group volunteered at Dallas Animal Services Adoption Center making chew toys, handing out treats, and reading to dogs.

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The Artsiest Volunteer Project

Virginia Beach, Virginia, boys 2021 group made tissue paper flowers for seniors in their senior center.

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Best Pose with Produce

Trabuco, California, boys 2021 group gleaned the gardens at the Incredible Edible Farm.

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Warmest Donation

Laguna Niguel, California, girls 2022 group made and donated blankets and towels for an animal shelter.

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Sweetest Surprise

Westlake Village, California, girls 2018 group delivered ice cream to fire stations in their community.

 

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Smartest Way to Volunteer

Franklin, Massachusetts, girls 2023 group helped a teacher at Keller Elementary school move classrooms at the end of the year.

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.

 

Photo Contest WINNER, Mackenzie E.!

Announcing the Lion’s Heart spring photo contest winner for submitting this great photo of her Trabuco Canyon/Coto, CA 2022 girls group picking beans for the Second Harvest Food Bank. What a great photo of Lion’s Heart Members volunteering and making a difference in their community! Congratulations Mackenzie!

Here is the winning photo: 

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By winning the Lion’s Heart spring photo contest, Mackenzie won a pair of Beats Solo2 headphones that were delivered to her door yesterday. She was so surprised and thrilled she sent us a picture of her with them on!

Thank you so much, Mackenzie, for your fantastic entry and keep on giving back!

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*Special thanks to all the Lion’s Heart Members who submitted photos to the contest, they were all wonderful. We are looking forward to sharing all your photos in the future on our social media channels with shout outs to the members/groups who took them. 

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.