“Going Small”: A 3-Month Plan for Civic Engagement Across the Generations (by Guest Blogger Laura Dubois)

Please note that the following is Laura Dubois’s final submission for the Portland State University Course UNST 421: Enhancing Youth Literacy.  Laura volunteered with Portland Youth Builders during Spring 2012.

While this writing was an assignment for class, it is also an actual plan for action beyond the classroom.   Posting these action plans is part of a system of accountability that we set up via the “Action Plan” assignment.  Students developed an accountability method to keep them on track with their community work.  Some chose to post to the public.  I will be checking back in with these students (publicly) down the road. Laura’s action plan showcases the fact that we can do volunteer work with our families and that this work can be part of the way we educate ourselves and our children on community.


I would like to continue to work with the community as a volunteer. My passion has always been working with elderly, and I will focus my efforts on this population. The elderly are an underserved population, just as are the youth that I worked with at Portland Youth Builders. The main theme that I took from the class is that it is very important for each individual to do what they can to support their community. I also learned how very rewarding it is to do so, and I am looking forward to continuing to help my community.

It will be fairly easy for me to take steps towards volunteering with the elderly. Starting the first week of July, I will make the appropriate contacts to work with Store to Door. This organization helps seniors remain independent in their own homes by providing them with groceries that they are otherwise unable to attain. This opportunity is available every Wednesday, every month, and will be easy to work into my life schedule. It is also a good opportunity for me because I will be able to bring my children with me.


I am choosing to “Go Small” with my volunteering at this time, because of my hectic schedule. Hands on Portland makes this very easy by identifying several volunteer opportunities that I can start and complete in just one day. This volunteer opportunity will also allow me to “Simply Connect”. I feel like senior citizens are a forgotten population for most, and working with Store to Door will allow me to connect with senior citizens that may think no one cares. I will let them know that I do care, and so do my children! Another way that this volunteer experience is right for me is that it will help me to become an “Expert in something small”. I learned a long time ago that I can not save the world, but I can make a difference. I know that I will not be able to change the way that society views the elderly, but I can make a big difference, in a very small way.


I will be able to stay on track with the goals that I have set up for myself because I have set very small and reasonable goals. With the kids and myself being out of school for the summer, I will have more than enough time to accomplish my goals. I have also discussed the volunteer opportunity with my children and they are excited to help. They never let me forget anything, so they will help me stay on track. I do not expect there to be any barriers to my success and I am truly looking forward to working with Store to Door, and also exploring other volunteer opportunities on the Hands On website.


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