The civic engagement activities that I have engaged in, as a result of my senior capstone class, Enhancing Youth Literacy, have exposed me to the tremendous need that is prevalent in our local Portland-area communities. I believe that this exposure and experience has enhanced my Civic Identity and Commitment. These experiences have clarified my sense of civic identity and reinforced my commitment to public action. I now see it as a personal duty to volunteer my time, when it is available, and my strengths, when they can be utilized, to better my local community. There are many different needs prevalent in our community, and a variety of ways that one can give back. Finding out what your interests are in and where you can make a difference is simpler than it may seem.
Using Hands on Portland to Find Volunteer Opportunities
Hands-On: Greater Portland is a great website that lists many diverse volunteer opportunities in the Portland Metro area. One can conduct an “Advanced Search” to seek out a certain time-frame that one has available to volunteer or a certain subject that one is most interested in, there are even opportunities to volunteer with your children.
Through Hands-On I found a volunteer opportunity to unpack and sort donated supplies for low-income children in the Greater Portland area. This opportunity was with Northwest Children’s Outreach, which is a local faith-based non-profit organization dedicated to helping children in need in the local community.
A Humbling Experience with Northwest Children’s Outreach
Sorting through the donated supplies was a very humbling experience. All of the supplies were things that any child would need, and things that most of us take for granted every day. The awareness that this brings, that there are children in our local community who are going without, makes one realize how fortunate one is and that giving back, volunteering, and spreading awareness are vital to the betterment of our community.
The need for supplies was evident at my community partner site as well. The teacher for the class I volunteered in had to purchase the materials for the class out-of-pocket. If this teacher did not have to pay for the materials, but received donations for the class, she might have been able to use more materials to create a better learning experience for her students.
During my capstone class this past term, we discussed the importance of education and how the current funding for education is not meeting the state’s educational goals. As citizens, we should try to fill the gap between what is funded and what the children still need that is not federally funded.
Ask yourself: What am I interested in? What is important to me? When do I happen to have 2 free hours of time this week? and find any opportunity that you can to give to your community. Volunteering is rewarding and fulfilling and can make a difference.