Volunteering has many benefits for people of all ages, from meeting interesting people, to acquiring new skill sets, to building self-confidence and self-esteem.
But did you know that youth who volunteer just one or more hours a week are 50 percent less likely to abuse alcohol, cigarettes or engage in other destructive behavior? Did you know that kids who serve in the community are more likely to perform better academically, graduate, and even vote?
“Having your children volunteer can get them headed in the right direction,” says Athena Parker, who heads up volunteer support for HandsOn Greater Richmond. “They are more likely to have a strong work ethic, volunteer, and give to charities as adults.” According to Parker, youth and family volunteerism is on the rise in the Richmond area. “A few years ago, people might have wanted to help, but didn’t have a resource for finding what was available to them in the community,” Parker says.
That’s where HandsOn comes in. The web-based, local nonprofit connects individuals, families, and groups to meaningful volunteer opportunities with organizations all over Richmond and its surrounding counties.
“HandsOn can find the right fit between organizations and volunteers, whether it’s working at an animal shelter, or helping out at a community garden,” says Parker.
One of the most flexible and useful tools is the Project Calendar, which allows potential volunteers to review opportunities and sign up online. Many projects are designed to be family-friendly so parents and kids can work side by side. HandsOn has also launched Teen Impact, a line-up of service projects geared specifically to teens aged 12 to 18 to participate in with a group of peers.
“Richmond is a wonderful community with need, and a strong desire to meet that need,” says Parker. “HandsOn currently has over 4,000 volunteers and 50 volunteer leaders. Over 300 volunteers a month are finding opportunities to give back. We would love to help as many people as possible find an opportunity as well.”