Volunteering Out Loud: Let’s Share Here (Add Your Voice)

Note: This post ends with a question for readers!

Summer time is often a little slower when it comes to education news.  While there is still much to discuss, there is often a lull as teachers do other summer work or take the summer off if they’re lucky .  I work each term out of the year, but summer always has a more relaxed vibe that I’m grateful for.  One of the things I’ll be thinking and writing about this summer is the work of teaching with community-based learning as the core of the classroom learning.  As part of this, I will be showcasing student work and talking about ways that I’m developing my own courses into stronger service-learning classes.

I keep thinking about a student I had at Portland Community College in my WR 122: Persuasive Writing class.  She volunteered at the Bonnie Hayes Small Animal Shelter and wrote the following in her final reflection:

I’m glad to be volunteering and I think that if I can do it while having two little ones and a limited available schedule then others should be stepping up their game. Volunteering should not be an activity that people do in secret; we should be proud and vocal about it and expect others to do more. “Think global, act local” something to that nature. The little things do matter.

I keep thinking about Amber’s idea that “volunteering should not be an activity that people do in secret; we should be proud and vocal about it.”  I was inspired by Amber’s idea and set up a virtual billboard in my online course site for summer WR 122.  On that billboard is a list of all of the students who will be volunteering throughout the term and the organizations they’ll be working with.  While the list of names is something that I keep confident, I can tell you that 15/20 of my students have opted in to volunteer work this term.  This means that their writing will be closely connected to the community. The list of issues that students (those who can fit volunteer work into their schedules and those who can not) is as follows:

  • local small businesses
  • unemployment
  • access to higher education
  • homelessness
  • support for kids in the foster care system
  • children’s hospitals
  • hunger
  • women and children’s issues
  • cancer support
  • addiction
  • support for members of the armed services
  • support for families of armed service members
  • environment & public land issues
  • animals
  • mentoring
  • healthcare
  • global outreach (resources for sustainability)
  • access to the arts

The kinds of conversations these students are having and the kind of work they’re doing in the community and, as a result, in their own writing is amazing and hopeful in face of so much that is difficult about the state of education today.

The point of this post?  To add my voice and my students’ voices to the bigger conversation about working in the community.  And to encourage you to do the same.

A question for you to answer, dear (mostly silent) readers:

Are you working in the community?  What does this work look like?  What are the issues most near and dear to your heart?


3 thoughts on “Volunteering Out Loud: Let’s Share Here (Add Your Voice)

  1. Summer’s a busy time for me at the library – on Saturday, I volunteer for story time in the morning, then spend a couple of hours volunteering with the Summer Reading Program. Spending that much time there on a consistent basis, week to week, gives me an interesting view into the life of the library as a community.

    And last week, I did my first session of cleaning donated books for The Children’s Book Bank! It was fun, and all the books go to Head Start kids to take home. It’s totally aligned with my interests in early childhood literacy issues, so I’m going to make this organization part of my commitment to staying involved!

    • Jeana:
      Thanks for adding your voice to the conversation. I’m still new to blogging, but I’ve heard that it’s really difficult to get people to actually respond/comment! Your additions are so appreciated!

      I love summer time at the library. I think that’s why it came as a particularly hard blow to hear that libraries would be cutting hours right in the middle of one of the busiest times of year. When you volunteer for Summer Reading, do you see any trend in terms of what age(s) of children are participating the most?

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