Kids and teens can have a substantial impact on their community when given the opportunity to volunteer. Incorporate friends, food, and fun to the mix and a powerful force for good is created as youth from all backgrounds work side-by-side, creating memories, making a difference for their cities, neighborhoods, and the world. As younger generations continue to engage in positive service to others, self-esteem is built, leadership skills are developed, team work is learned and incorporated into other areas of life, communication skills are enhanced, and ultimately, these young people are left empowered with the confidence to know they can make a difference on important community issues no matter the circumstance.
In January of 2009, The Volunteer Center, A program of the Round Rock Area Serving Center, founded a youth service organization – Youth Opportunity to Unite – inspired by the realization that so many local youth were interested in making a difference in the Williamson County community, but were unfamiliar with the variety of volunteer activities available through local nonprofits and were experiencing barriers because of age. A sense of urgency to create an opportunity for our community youth to have a voice in philanthropic matters was cultivated and within a matter of weeks the youth program emerged from idea to reality.
The Y.O.U. council, an executive board comprised of youth volunteers and adult mentors, comes together as a team and coordinates one volunteer project each month to give local area youth the chance to get involved. Each month our projects focus on a new area of interest in the community. It is our objective to educate young volunteers about the wide range of concerns and issues that face Williamson County with the hope that a spark will be ignited for these youth and they will want to continually participate in a variety of volunteer efforts and perhaps find affinity and passion for a particular cause they care about. To date the group has completed 25 service projects and engaged over 1,500 volunteers.
Whether it be visiting a nursing home, planting trees for the environment, or raising literacy awareness, we continually stand by our mission of “youth empowering youth through hands-on volunteer efforts to make a change in their community.” Youth Opportunity to Unite is a vehicle for youth from any background to find and unleash their skills and talents for the benefit of others. We know our young people can make a difference now and can continue to build upon their experiences to make a difference for a life-time.
Visit us at www.youthopportunitytounite.org
Useful links related to Youth Volunteering:
Energize: Articles on Youth Volunteering, Service Learning and Family Volunteering
DoSomething.org: One of the largest organizations in the U.S. that helps young people rock causes they care about
Network for Good – YouthNoise: Empowers young leaders to act for the causes they care about locally, nationally and globally.
HandsOn Network: GenerationOn Youth Service Fact Sheet
Volunteer Spot: Volunteering for Kids http://blog.volunteerspot.com/volunteer_guru/2011/06/kids-volunteering-youth-service.html