Family Community Volunteering
Guest blogger – Karine Aviv
A couple of Sundays ago, I took my two older girls (ages 8 and 11) to a community volunteering event (J-Serve), at our local Jewish Centre. As a mother of 3, I believe that getting my kids involved in community events is important for a number of reasons. As they grow and develop, being involved in a larger community teaches them about social responsibility. As a parent, I want them to learn not to focus only on themselves but rather to learn that there is a whole world around them. I want my daughters to learn to be giving, considerate and compassionate towards others. Volunteering is important for character building in children. They learn to care for other people and learn that selfless actions feel good.
Participating in community volunteering events as a family not only connects children to a broader community, but also teaches them of the impact they can have (even at a young age). This was apparent in the project we participated in. The project that we were given was to paint the Community Centre’s daycare playground, along with a team of other volunteers. It was quickly evident that they were the youngest members of the team. My 11 year old daughter quickly started telling everyone that she herself had gone to this daycare and remembered playing in the playground. She was thrilled to be taking part in painting it for the new children that use it today. My 8 year old daughter was just happy to paint, as it is one of her favorite activities. But I hear the pride in her voice whenever we drive by the playground with one of her friends in our car and she tells them that she was part of the team that painted the equipment outside and look how shiny it looks!
Feeling part of something bigger than them was a great motivator. Being the only children on the volunteer painting team did not deter them from working as hard as everyone else, and making sure the job got done in time. I was so proud of them, putting their all into the project, but I was also thrilled because they were having the time of their lives. It was very apparent that they were having fun, and feeling good about participating. That day accomplished everything I wanted it to. The girls were asking when the next event is and are looking forward to more community involvement.
For parents looking for volunteering opportunities to do with their kids, I would suggest going to their school first. Teachers and school administrations can have a wealth of ideas of how both parents and children can become more involved both at the school and in the surrounding community. My daughters love it when I come into the school to volunteer, and are even happier when it is a project that they are participating in. The Internet also offers lots of sites with information about volunteer opportunities. In Calgary, you can also go to sites such as Volunteer Calgary, check your local community centre or browse through the latest issue of Calgary Child Magazine.
Since this is Volunteer Appreciation Week, this is a great time to get involved.
Bio: Karine is the marketing manager at Dexterity Consulting. She previously worked at Hitachi-ID (previously M-Tech Information Technology) as the Director of Marketing. Her education background is a BA in Psychology and an MBA in Information Systems. She lives with her husband and three daughters in Calgary.