Innovative and Exciting Alternatives to Traditional Volunteering

This is a guest post from Nadia Jones.

A recent article in The New York Times chronicles an exciting trend in youth volunteering: young people are finding out ways to give back to their community in a meaningful way. The article explains how young people in Manhattan have re-thought how they want to volunteer their time with older generations. Instead of going the traditional route of visiting the elderly simply to keep them company, the youths at Baruch College Campus High School decided to impart knowledge of the web that comes naturally to the younger generation but still eludes older people. These students are empowering older generations with knowledge to make them highly capable web users, and that’s no small feat.

The initiative reflects the changing dynamics in volunteerism. New generations of volunteers want to be more useful to their community, and they’re looking in all avenues for ways to give back. While the data from the federal government suggests that the majority of volunteer work is being done through religious organizations, it also points to a growing trend in alternative volunteering efforts done through educational and civic services. The Baruch College Campus High School in Manhattan is just one of countless new initiatives.

What other volunteerism is going on around the country?

Perhaps one of the biggest driving forces in youth volunteerism this year is the impending 2012 general election. Whether they’re backing President Obama or the eventual Republican nominee, the race has galvanized youths to volunteer their time to support causes they believe in. Thousands of youths volunteer either through community organization, canvassing, or networking within their community to build a case for their candidate. Other youths are perusing careers with charitable organizations immediately after they graduate college. Organizations like the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, and Teach for America are among the top choices for many recent college grads because they boast the best resources with which to connect members with people in need.

There are also countless volunteer and charity efforts that go unnoticed throughout the country, eclipsed by the high profile pursuits listed above.  For instance, students at the University of Arizona are training service animals so that they may work as helpful companions to the blind. In San Antonio, Texas, people are volunteering their time to help high school students apply for financial aid for potential college enrollment. Encouraging aid and volunteer efforts are happening across the country, you just have to look closely to find them.

A volunteering app?

Yes, there is now an app for volunteering.  The simply titled app Reward Volunteers is available for anyone interested in logging and keeping track of their volunteer time. The app is designed for volunteers to keep tabs on their time with various organizations, so that both the volunteer and the organization can know how many hours have been devoted to civic engagements. Participants who log enough volunteer hours may also qualify for a reward for themselves or their volunteer program. It’s a great innovation for volunteerism in the age of apps, and one that reflects a promising trend of active involvement among younger generations.


This is a guest post by Nadia Jones who blogs at online college about education, college, student, teacher, money saving, movie related topics. You can reach her at nadia.jones5 @ gmail.com.

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