Four Reasons for Youth to Volunteer This Summer (and two easy opportunities)

Published on July 28, 2022 in

Guest Blog by Nishan Inampudi, a student at Detroit Country Day High School in Michigan

More high school students can, and should, benefit from the amazing opportunity to give back to the community and prepare for their future, through volunteering.

Last summer, I worked with the volunteer engagement team at United Way for Southeastern Michigan, an experience that allowed me to see the community in a whole new light. I did on-the-ground work with United Way partners that provide assistance with basic needs. One thing that struck me was that most of the volunteers were retired or older adults. I saw very few young volunteers, especially high schoolers, involved in community service projects. In some places, I was the only youth volunteer.

I began to understand that an opportunity for youth to get involved existed. I set out to encourage others to act in their own communities. Below are my top four reasons youth should volunteer this summer.

Gain perspective – Volunteering is a great opportunity for high schoolers to better understand real-life challenges that people face every day, and what they can do to help improve the lives of those struggling around them. The students become better people through this process because they learn to value what they have, as well as the work charities and nonprofits do for the community.

Build life skills – Volunteering also helps teenagers build life skills such as teamwork, communication, leadership and problem-solving, which are vital for future success. Additionally, community service helps teenagers develop important character traits, including self-confidence and empathy.

Learn dedication – Working in the community allows youth to see first-hand the satisfaction people receive from dedicating their lives to helping others. This was one of the most important lessons I took from my community service at  Pope Francis Center, the nonprofit I volunteered with.

Be inspired – While at the center, I met a cook who graduated from the University of Michigan with an economics degree in 2008, but because of the state of the economy, he couldn’t find a job that aligned with his education. He instead pursued his passion for cooking but wasn’t satisfied because he didn’t feel he was making a lasting impact. He came to work at Pope Francis to change that. He said the feeling he gets when he puts a smile on someone’s face after handing them a fresh and delicious meal drives his passion for his work.

Stories like this one inspired me and I hope it will inspire other youth to make community service a part of their lives. If you are a parent looking for ways to help your teen get involved in the community, or if you are a teen looking for community service opportunities, United Way’s volunteer engagement team is a great resource.

Convinced volunteering is a great idea and ready to get started? Below are two easy opportunities to take advantage of before the sun sets on summer.

Use your tutoring skills with the Mercy Education Project. This Detroit-based organization provides tools for educational equity, economic stability and mobility; and cultural enrichment opportunities for women and girls who have limited access to resources. Use your studying skills by helping girls with reading and math during the upcoming school year.

Get outdoors with Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. If you love nature, sign up to support the county’s only international wildlife refuge. There are plenty of ways to get involved – from wildlife photography to trail upkeep, so be sure to check out the page.

For more opportunities, visit United Way’s online volunteer portal.