Volunteer opportunities are everywhere and for as long as I can remember, volunteer work has been a big part of my life. I have done volunteer work at the Ronald McDonald House, been part of the Youth Ending Hunger (YEH) club since freshman year, gone on field trips with YEH to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, and I have spent most of my Sunday mornings since seventh grade working at my Temple’s Sunday Hebrew School program (virtual and in person). All of my volunteer work allowed me to realize just how important volunteer work is to me as well as to my community.
Volunteer work benefits the community but in the moment, it may feel like there is no part of the volunteering you are doing that could possibly benefit you. To that I–and countless other volunteers– say, “Au contraire!” Volunteering has plenty of benefits for the volunteers themselves. Improved self- esteem and stronger community relationships are just a few of the benefits that volunteering provides to long-term volunteers themselves.
High school can be a time of great stress so if volunteer hours are what a college or job wants to see on your resume, use it to your advantage! Volunteer work has many wonderful benefits. Aside from being a fun way to do good, volunteer work has been found to release dopamine, which in turn may help to lower depression and anxiety.
Many Shaker students have seen these benefits though the IB Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS) program. “It’s IB’s approach to making sure students who are involved with the IB program are more than just academic,” IB Diploma Programme Coordinator Amy Brodsky said. According to Brodsky, students coming into IB tend to already be inclined to doing service work and helping others. “It helps give that extra little push for kids to see different types of ways to serve others,” she said.
For underclassmen and students involved in programs outside of IB, clubs are an excellent way to volunteer with friends and get a connection to the high school. YEH takes any student who signs up, official attending member or first timer, on volunteer trips. One of the most frequent field trips is to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, but throughout the year, YEH volunteers at an array of locations. According to YEH adviser William Scanlon, the volunteer work helps to open student’s eyes about the joys of volunteering.“They realize they have a lot of fun doing it and then they want to do more,” Scanlon said, “It grows on people.”
Writing this little section only a day after I attended a food bank field trip with YEH, I feel like I have renewed the understanding of just how good it feels to help others. I attended the May Greater Cleveland Food Bank trip with YEH. Shaker’s group was at full capacity, bringing seven students and one adviser. While I did not go on the field trip with the intention of sharing a story of my experience that day in particular, I feel now as though it would fit perfectly in this article.
This trip in particular was one of my favorites. I went in knowing I would have one friend on the trip, but now I feel as though I had six friends on the trip. We didn’t all necessarily enter the food bank as “friends,” but in the three hours we were there. I feel as though we all left as just that
Here are some EPIC places to volunteer in CLE!
(Click the link to see more!)
Greater CLE food bank
Cleveland Animal Protective League
Ronald McDonald House
The Gathering Place