Starfish Scholars have much to gain personally from volunteering in their community. A few benefits include learning new skills, developing career interests, building their résumé, earning praise from adults, and being exposed to community needs. Even closer to our Starfish mission, volunteering also helps students believe in their own capabilities, giving them confidence that they will graduate from a four-year college (Spring, Dietz & Grimm, 2007). These experiences also provide a hands-on way for Scholar and Mentors to get to know one another.
In light of this, Starfish is working on providing more volunteer opportunities for our matches. We also have some pointers:
- Get to know your Scholar before choosing a volunteer activity. Finding one that matches their interests, skills, or personality traits will make it a more fun and engaging experience.
- During the activity, praise and encourage your Scholar as they display their skills and abilities. Point out their achievements! They may even learn a new skill about themselves.
- After the activity, make sure you both reflect on the experience. Talk about what you accomplished, how it helped the recipients, and what it meant to them personally. Be sure to ask them what their own take-aways were from the experience.
Hopefully the civic engagement experiences you have together will lead your Scholar to want to volunteer more in the future. Also, learning new skills may lead your Scholar to consider new career possibilities. Finally, be sure to keep track of volunteer hours for scholarship and college applications, and you guessed it, Career Cruising has a useful tool (the Resume Builder) you and your Scholar can fill out together.
Spring, K. Dietz, N. Grimm, R., Jr. (2007, March) Youth Helping America. Leveling the path to participation: Volunteering and civic engagement among youth from disadvantaged circumstances. Washington, DC. Corporation for National and Community Service.
Williams, Bryan. (2008, January) Engaging Youth in Volunteer Service. Mentoring Resource Center Fact Sheet. Folsom, CA. US Dept of Education Mentoring Resource Center.