Help your community, teach your kids
by Patricia Moon
ur family mixes community volunteering and homeschooling into our daily lives. Volunteering with children began early in our family. While pregnant with my first child, we were weekly volunteers at the local genealogy society. After my daughter's birth we continued to help other families find their ancestral roots. I have a wonderful picture of her in a chest pack, while I shared genealogical information with people at the county fair. My children and my community volunteering were two priorities that I found a way to combine.
Today, my children are 12 and 10 and we find many opportunities to volunteer in our community.
Our best source is the local volunteer coordinator for our county. Most areas have a group that helps connect volunteers with opportunities to help others. This group can take any interest or talent and match it with someone who has a need for that particular interest or talent. When our homeschooling led us into local history, we called the volunteer organization and found a need for people to guide visitors through a historical home. We spent a lot time reading about the home, touring it ourselves, and watching a locally made film about the residents of the home.
Once a month, all of us spent four hours taking visitors through the home and telling them all the fun facts that we had learned. Next to the home is a reproduction of a one-room schoolhouse. During slow periods the children and their dad and I would "play" school. One of us would be the teacher and the others would sit in the desks and write our "lessons" on our little chalkboards. The whole experience was fun, educational and filled a need in our community.
We found another opportunity to volunteer when we bought a home in the country. By the second year in our new home, we were all desperate to make some friends. One evening a friend called and said that I was needed as an assistant cook for the annual summer celebration in our valley. I went to the meeting that night and became, not only the assistant cook, but the president of the community association!
I also learned that there had always been a local newsletter, but that the man who published it had stopped doing it for medical reasons. Since I had experience in producing newsletters, I volunteered for that too! The children help with every event at our community hall and help produce and distribute the newsletter. They even have their own column in it.
Needless to say our lives are filled with more new friends and activities than we ever dreamed of. We are all building those special life-long friendships, while helping our community unite and grow stronger.
Even without my encouragement, our children continue to find ways to help others through volunteering. While attending a local spaghetti feed/fund-raiser for a church member with cancer, Sara and Jon spent the
whole evening serving coffee, juice and dinners to the huge crowd that attended. I was unable to attend, but several people called afterwards to tell me how helpful they had been. They had seen a need and filled it.
Many opportunities to volunteer in your own community are available for the asking. Whatever you and your family enjoy doing, there is someone out there waiting for assistance in that area. I don[base ']t know the statistics, but I do know that many public service organizations and other groups would collapse without volunteers like you and me. You might be surprised to see how much good you can do--even volunteering a few hours, once a month.
Patricia Moon is a homeschooling mother, an active member of her community and a freelance writer who is married to her editor/fan club president.