American families have a special opportunity right now to make an impact. Now more than ever, as we experience a global pandemic, and have a renewed focus on social justice and environmental challenges, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved and advance causes your family cares about.
Here are a few of the extraordinary things that happen when families choose to volunteer together:
1. Children learn your family’s values. It’s always important to talk to children about what values your family holds. But one of the best ways to reinforce these conversations is to demonstrate your values in action. Volunteering shows your kids that you’re dedicated, as a family, to promoting, supporting or furthering a certain issue — and that you’re willing to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
2. You spend quality time together. Volunteering is a way to bring together family members of all ages — parents, children, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and more — around a common mission.
3. It builds empathy. Learning emotional intelligence is a crucial part of child development, and civic engagement can accelerate this process. When volunteering, you’ll interact with those who share commonalities, like passion about an issue, and those who may be different from you, like people from communities outside your own. Understanding where people are coming from and hearing about their lived experiences helps children flex their empathy muscles now and later in life.
4. You become lifelong learners. If kids always associate learning with school, they may see their educational journey come to an end when they graduate. Instead, show them that the world is full of learning opportunities. Through volunteering, they’ll interact with new people from various walks of life, adopt new skills needed for the task at hand and discover how they can make an impact through their time, talent and efforts.
5. You develop important skills. Everyone can gain valuable skills through volunteering. There are the hard skills often needed for volunteer roles, like carpentry, computer programming, translation and other services, and the soft skills that come with volunteer positions, like social and communication skills.
From volunteering directly with an organization to fundraising to learning about meaningful causes, doing good comes in many forms. Get inspired by considering “Points of Light’s Civic Circle.” The Civic Circle is a framework developed by Points of Light, a nonpartisan, global nonprofit, and it represents your power to lead, lend support and take action for causes you care about and to lead a civic life. The nine activities outlined by the Civic Circle are: listening and learning, using one’s voice, social entrepreneurship, volunteering, public, national or military service, using one’s purchasing power to express their values, working, voting and donating.
For specific volunteer ideas, search the Points of Light Engage platform, the world’s largest digital hub for volunteering and community engagement opportunities, at engage.pointsoflight.org or visit the Points of Light website for DIY volunteer projects.
The need for civic engagement is greater than ever before. And though volunteering may look different right now, there are many ways to be civically engaged. Take time out with your family to help others and make a positive mark on the world.
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