Saturday, November 24, 2012

Book Review - Volunteering Smarts


Volunteering Smarts: How to Find Opportunities, Create a Positive Experience, and More

By: Sandy Donovan
Publisher: Twenty-First Century Books
Publication Date: August 2012
ISBN: 978-0761370215
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 2012

Many schools make some form of community service or volunteering a part of their curriculum. Perhaps so, but maybe you feel that you want to volunteer without having it be a requirement in your life. There are many reasons you might want to volunteer and just maybe you’d “like to contribute to your community, be around positive people, give your mood a boost, or have something extra to list on your college application.” Colleges are definitely looking for students with that little extra sparkle and what you do outside of the classroom can count almost as much as what you do inside of it.

The question that you need to ask yourself is what kind of volunteering are you interested in and how can I go about exploring my options? This book will help you think about and narrow down those options to provide the perfect fit for your needs, the needs of others, and your personality. Approximately 25% of all teens volunteered in 2010 and did everything from tutoring to “collecting food for the needy.” There are many benefits to volunteering, both for teens and the world at large. For example, “teen volunteers have been a huge part of the environmental movement.” Volunteering, no doubt, makes us all feel good about ourselves, but for teens it can also provide the "perfect opportunity to explore a career or learn a new skill."

The best way to “get started as a volunteer is to connect with a group or an organization.” There are several different types of groups you can look at that will mesh with your lifestyle. There are several online search opportunities outlined in this book, including one that provides an “idea list” of numerous opportunities. You’ll also be able to learn how to select your volunteer work by following suggestions provided, including the necessity to “follow basic workplace rules.” No, volunteering doesn’t pay, but it does offer you some awesome life lessons as you help others.

If you aren’t one to follow directives easily and “are more of a take-charge character than a go-with-the-flow personality,” you may wish to create your own volunteering project. There are several steps you should follow before starting a service project including researching a project, goal setting, forming a team, learning about those you will be helping, organizing, fundraising, getting the message out, and checking out any “red tape” you may run up against. You’ll also learn many other things in this book including how you can “make your voice heard” by becoming an activist, you’ll read about possible ways to make a difference, how to make people listen to you (fliers, letters, blogs, lobbying), and you’ll read about many other ways you can improve the lives of others and truly make a difference!

This is an excellent teen guide that will help young people learn to volunteer and change lives. Of course teens and ‘tweens will improve their own lives in the effort to help others. This book has some very solid guidelines that will not only help teens think about volunteering before they leap into something, but will also help adults who may be mentoring them. There are several sage suggestions that are offered up including the fact that one should really try to find a good solid fit before they volunteer and not to over-commit to anything. There are full-color photographs, SnapShots (polls), numerous informative sidebars, including pertinent articles direct from the pages of USA Today. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, a selected bibliography, and additional book and website resources to explore. There are free downloadable educational resources on the publisher’s website.

Quill says: If you really want to learn the ins and outs of volunteering or mentor young people in your community, this is definitely one book to look at!