208 May 2: Family Community Services

It's easy to feel disconnected, as many parents juggle work, school, kids, and activity after activity. One of the most satisfying, fun, and productive ways to unite is volunteering for community service projects. One great way to feel a part of the Rockdale community is to take part in the annual Earth Day event held here in Rockdale. Weekend before last we had a number of high school students who were involved in the citywide clean up, and the opportunity to help make this event successful was very rewarding to them. This is one easy way to plan an community service activity with your family, and enjoy the time together and give back to our community.

Why should your family lend a helping hand? It feels good. The satisfaction and pride that comes from helping others are important reasons to volunteer. When you commit your time and effort to an organization or a cause you feel strongly about, the feeling of fulfillment can be endless.

  • It strengthens your community. Organizations and agencies that use volunteers are providing important services at low or no cost to those who need them.
  • It can strengthen your family. Volunteering is a great way for families to have fun and feel closer. But it can be hard to find the time to volunteer. You could select just one or two projects a year and make them a family tradition.

If volunteering begins at an early age, it can become part of kids' lives — something they might just expect and want to do. It can teach them:

  • A sense of responsibility. Kids and teens learn what it means to make and keep a commitment. They learn we're all responsible for the well-being of our communities.
  • That one person can make a difference. A wonderful, empowering message for kids is that they're important enough to have an impact on someone.
  • The benefit of sacrifice. By giving up a toy to a less fortunate child, a child learns that sometimes it's good to sacrifice and that there are important things besides ourselves and our immediate needs.
  • Tolerance. Working in community service can bring kids and teens in touch with people of different backgrounds, abilities, ethnicities, ages, education and income levels. They'll learn that even the most diverse individuals can be united by common values.
  • Job skills. Community service can help young people decide on their future careers.
  • How to fill idle time wisely. If kids aren't involved in traditional after-school activities, community service can be a wonderful alternative.

The Internet offers lots of sites with information about volunteer opportunities. You can also call a favorite charity, hospital, or church directly to see if they have any needs. When looking for a volunteer position, remember that it may be difficult to find the perfect volunteer slot. Be flexible. It may take a while to find a perfect fit, but once you do, it will be worth it.

Families can do many volunteer jobs. Even the smallest child (with adult supervision) can pick up garbage at the park, playground, or beach. You don't even have to be part of a big effort to do this. Or become involved in repair and renovation efforts for low-income residents. Younger kids might not be able to do the big jobs, but helping out by fetching a paintbrush or holding the nails involves them just the same. Work at Rockdale Heavenly Treasures Thrift Store or Christian Services Food Pantry as a family. Volunteer for Meals on Wheels or Senior Citizens that serves the elderly to take food to people who are homebound and visit with them. Your kids can brighten a lonely senior's day instantly. Help plant flowers or trees. The possibilities are endless.

Whatever you choose to do, volunteering and community service can benefit both the community and your family. Get involved today!