January is National Mentoring Month and Monday, January 18, 2016 is National Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Day of Service.
Chances are that if you are reading this post you are already committed to being a positive, loving, and strong influence in the life of your own children, and in the lives of the other children in your life and community. This month, further your commitment by volunteering with your family and finding opportunities to mentor kids in need of a strong, positive influence like you!
Knowing where to start in finding a volunteer or mentoring opportunity can be a challenge, so we have put together a variety of resources and tips for you to get started.
Research suggests that families who volunteer together forge stronger ties. Additionally, kids who become involved in community service develop greater self-esteem and are less likely to engage in risky behaviors in their teen years.
Kids and teens learn what it means to make and keep a commitment through volunteering. They learn to be accountable and develop good habits, such as being on time, trying their best, and being proud of the work they do. Volunteering also encourages a sense of gratitude for what they have to be thankful for in their own lives.
Ultimately, we are all responsible for the well-being of our communities. There is a wide range of organizations that identify opportunities to volunteer and become more involved in community service projects.
Here are some places to start connecting with volunteer opportunities:
Mentoring – the presence of a caring adult offering support, advice, friendship, reinforcement, and constructive examples – has proven to be a powerful tool for helping young people fulfill their potential. Research shows that mentoring:
- Improves young people’s attitudes toward their parents, peers and teachers
- Encourages students to stay motivated and focused on their education
- Provides a positive way for young people to spend free time
- Helps young people face daily challenges and offers opportunities for youth to consider new career paths
Connecting to a mentoring program in your community is easier that you might think. Get started online with the following resources:
- The National Mentoring Partnership
- National Mentoring Month
- Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
- Becoming a STEM Mentor Toolkit
If you can’t find established programs in your own community, consider asking at your local school what opportunities may be available. You can find out more about becoming a mentor here.
Starting Your Own Volunteer Project
There are many resources available for families and community groups interesting in spearheading their own service project.
Here are some federal resources for getting started:
- United We Serve Getting Started Toolkits
- Corporation for National & Community Service Toolkits
National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse