Updated: Nov 21, 2022
By Valerie Padilla
The act of finding community service opportunities to fulfill the semester requirements can certainly be extremely difficult. Believe me, I have practically scoured the internet for something fun I could do to get those hours but with a little help and with the right resources the process can be a little easier! Here is the guide to Community Service Hours and some recommendations (from mine and others' personal experiences) you never knew you needed:
1. Be Specific! While searching up “Community Service Opportunities in Lancaster CA,” can get you pretty far, it is extremely important to be more specific! Make sure to add your interests there, for example, I searched, “Reading volunteer opportunities” and it comes up with a list of places where you could become a reading mentor or help run these specific programs in other positions. This gives you the ability to not only choose which program you want to be a part of but also get involved with organizations that participate in online services, so you can earn your hours without ever leaving home!
As a side note for those who are interested in Community Service opportunities that lie in literature, Traveling Stories is an amazing non-profit organization actively helping students improve their literacy skills! As long as you can fill out the online application (which takes about five minutes to finish,) and complete the online training/screening you can become either a reading mentor, who reads along with elementary students or fill the role of a help desk who makes sure that these meetings run smoothly! (Last semester I was able to earn my full 10 hours from this wonderful program alone.)
2. Commit (But…It's okay to have commitment issues) Find a place and commit to it! While there is nothing wrong with volunteering at multiple places, finding a volunteer opportunity you enjoy and earning your hours from one place is extremely useful when filling out a job, college, or any other application that may be asking for your extracurricular activities and involvement in the community! However, keep in mind that it is okay if you find good hour earnings and fun things to do in various places, something different works for everyone!
Many SOAR students find the opportunities at Grace Resource Center extremely fulfilling and incredibly rewarding because it actively supports our community with various clothing and food drives and other necessities! It’s definitely a good place to begin your journey to community service commitment and earn the hours you need during the times you are available. Don’t be afraid to create connections either! For starters, Sharon Johnson the volunteer coordinator of Grace Resource Center has her contact information listed on the website, send her an email and show your interest! Become a regular volunteer and you will soon have another person in your arsenal to utilize for future opportunities or just more volunteer hours.
3. Pull out your crayons and colored paper! Start to get creative (Honestly! People will appreciate some homemade cards and gifts personalized by you) If the places I listed before have not struck your interest do not fear! Creating cards, letters, and other fun items for individuals who are in need of a support system or just something to brighten up their day will certainly make you feel good and give you the hours you may need! Let’s go back to my first tip, remember to type in something specific, for example: “Writing Letters Volunteer” popped up with great results.
One of the results for this search was actually, Love for our elders! You can create letters for the elderly with inspirational quotes, uplifting messages, or interesting stories you may want to share. For artists, or just anyone who wants to unleash their creativity on something that can brighten an elderly day this would be a great opportunity. While this is essentially a virtual opportunity you will be able to connect to the hearts of those you are making letters for and make your volunteer experience much more meaningful and memorable. Remember that for your creativity, time, and dedication this is another great way you would be able to earn your full amount of Community Service Hours needed!
4. Have fun!
While all the tips listed in this article can be useful, the last and most important piece of advice I can give you is to have fun! Volunteering may seem like just another requirement or chore you must get done on your list, but if you find something specific that is suitable for you, volunteering can be extremely rewarding and fun! Helping the community, getting involved, and making those connections for future opportunities come with volunteering so instead of seeing it as a daunting task, think of it as another fulfilling experience!