Amazing youth looking for opportunities to serve…by Brittany Hull
Hello from the windy city! My name is Brittany Hull and I am serving as the Youth Service and Service Learning VISTA at HandsOn Suburban Chicago (HOSC).
From high school down to kindergarten, local youth are learning to change the world through positive action in their community…though many don’t realize what they are doing is actually service, they just think it is fun! And that is one of my goals for my service year, helping youth find meaningful opportunities to learn and grow while helping their local communities and even the wider world. So far the year has gotten off to a great start with our after school mentoring program, CHiL. Over 40 high school students take a break from their studies and busy lives to help middle school students at 4 different middle schools reach their potential. The high schoolers meet with 1-3 mentees each week for 2-4 hours helping them with their homework, studying for tests, and keeping them organized to succeed in school. They also partake in games and fun activities to build social skills and deeper relationship with the students.
And it’s not just the high school students that are getting in on the service scene; the middle school students got a taste for helping others by creating and writing cards to local veterans and active service men and women in honor of Veterans Day. I was amazed at the enthusiasm the students displayed in their effort to brighten someones day. They really went above and beyond the project by writing heartfelt messages and moving letters. I know the soldiers and veterans who receive these cards will love them!
With all these amazing youth looking for opportunities to serve and help others, we as adults need to work hard to provide them with new volunteer opportunities… and that is where our GenerationOn boot camp came in. We invited local nonprofits to come to a one day boot camp on engaging youth volunteers at their organizations, discussing everything from adult misconceptions to youth volunteering trends to writing volunteer descriptions that will attract these young people. Currently most youth volunteering opportunities are limited to fundraising, food drives, and clean-ups. The organizations worked together to develop leadership roles and skill building opportunities. Opportunities like a social media outreach coordinator, website developer, youth board member, or youth volunteer coordinator are all skill building positions that allow for high achieving youth to really make their mark on the community.
I look forward to working with these organizations and awesome youth throughout my service year and can’t wait to get started on our next projects!