Volunteers make a difference in the lives of people who live in their community. They teach, clean, help and care through hours of giving. All this giving adds up. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, 61.8 million individuals in the United States contributed 8 billion hours of volunteerism in 2008 alone. The economic value of all this volunteering? $162 billion U.S. dollars. To put that in context, this is roughly equivalent to the 2008 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Egypt. And that’s just U.S. volunteers.

Youth Volunteering allows young people to make a difference in their world and more and more they are seeking out opportunities to improve their communities and the world around them by giving their time to service projects they deem to be important. Consider the following:

1. Youth who volunteer just one hour or more a week are 50% less likely to abuse alcohol, cigarettes, become pregnant, or engage other destructive behavior.

2. Teens say the benefits received from volunteering are: Learning to respect others; learning to be helpful and kind; learning to understand people who are different; developing leadership skills, becoming more patient, and better understanding of citizenship. They also learn how to get things done in their communities through interfacing with organizations and community government both large and small.

3. Youth who volunteer are more likely to do well in school, graduate and vote.

Beyond the personal benefits, young people as a whole are rewarded in our society when they volunteer. Many adults hold negative beliefs about young people in general. They look odd and dress wildly. They travel in large groups and engage in rowdy behavior while playing loud music. The media portrays negative images of youth who get into trouble and commit crimes for example. Sixty-one percent of American adults are convinced that today’s youth face a crisis in their values and morals, look at teenagers with misgiving, and view them as undisciplined, disrespectful and unfriendly. Young people perceive these negative beliefs. Only twenty percent of young people perceive that adults in the community value them. When presented with images of young people doing community service, the opinion of adults change.

Volunteer opportunities also provide an environment for people of different generations to work together for a common goal, as well as offering an opportunity for mutual understanding. The skills and developmental assets gained by young people who volunteer early in life translate to future benefits for them personally, and for society as a whole.

If you would like to learn more about volunteering with the Santa Fe Ranch please contact us.