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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Volunteers make a huge difference for DC SCORES

For many, volunteering can be as easy as shoveling an elderly neighbor’s walkway during the winter, tutoring at a local school, serving lunch at a soup kitchen, or for DC SCORES refereeing a soccer match or painting the excited faces of poet-athletes. While these acts may seem small to a volunteer in comparison to what an organization does on a daily basis, the voluntary efforts are priceless to an organization and allow it to accomplish its goals and serve its constituents.

The role of the volunteer is one of the most important jobs within a nonprofit.

For DC SCORES, volunteers are a necessity. With over 700 students in our program and only 13 staff members on hand, we need help during our city-wide events. We fill the fields of Anacostia Park during Fall Frenzy and Trinity University during Jamboree! with excited students, parents and coaches, each ready to play soccer, get their faces painted, and participate in the various activity booths and interactive stations. With the help of volunteers, each booth is staffed, each game is refereed, and every face is painted. Each DC SCORES event is a success with the help of volunteers.

The reasons why people volunteer are as different as the individuals themselves. Whether to develop a new skill or to teach your skill to another, to give back to your community or to learn the community you’ve recently moved to – the reasons are endless, as are the numerous benefits of volunteering.

When a volunteer opportunity ends, there is always that instant gratification of seeing the project completed, the house built, a successful event, or a task learned. But research shows that adults who volunteer regularly gain positive long-term benefits as well: improved interpersonal and communication skills, and in some cases lowering depression.

For youth and teens, volunteering is also beneficial on a number of levels. By volunteering in an activity that interests them, they can explore and gain firsthand experience in a future career. They learn respect for others as well as themselves as they interact with other volunteers and organizations. Children and teens who volunteer continue to do so as they get older.

And so the cycle of service continues.

To volunteer in your area, consider the issues that are important to you, your interests and the free time you have available. Consider volunteering with a friend or two for a few hours during the week or on a weekend. If you have preferred organizations or connections with organizations, contact them to see how you can get involved. Or for an expansive list of volunteering opportunities, visit sites like idealist.org, 1800volunteer.org or volunteermatch.org to find volunteer opportunities locally or even across the country.

And while you’re serving, know that the time you’re giving to that organization is doing wonders – for both parties.

-- Written by Tohry Petty, Communications & Events Director

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