Redmond teens have plenty of volunteer opportunities

Fact: As of 2005, around 55 percent of youth between ages 12-18 in the U.S. volunteer in their community, while adults only serve about half the hours of what teens serve.

This percentage has gone up in the past few years, but why are 40 percent of teens not doing any sort of community service work? What is the reason not everyone is jumping up trying to find opportunities to get involved?

I applaud those who achieve success in their school or community, but if you want to do more then I can give you suggestions. And for those who do not partake in service activities then the question is why? Is it because teens don’t know how to be resourceful when it comes to finding volunteer opportunities? Is it because they are too lazy to do the foot work to find opportunities to give back? Or is it because they lack interest in helping out the community they live in?

I am unsure which one it could be. To tell you the truth, I certainly have never had much trouble finding community service. In fact, once you do one project, many more come to you and soon you have many available opportunities. That is why I want to reach out to more youth to get them interested and involved.

It is my personal goal to share with those Redmond teens who are looking for some service hours the secrets to finding them.

Three years ago when I was in junior high, I needed hours for honors society. I only needed fifteen hours and the deadline was in two months. How could I find the amount I needed in time to stay in the club? I talked with one of my friends in this group called RYPAC (Redmond Youth Partnership Advisory Committee) and he convinced me to join, or at least come to one meeting.

I went and was blown away. This group had been around for 15 years. It was the perfect place for me. It’s a community service group made up of three-quarters youth and one-quarter adult members. They plan events that benefit the community, such as summer movie nights, homeless feeds, Halloween parties for less fortunate elementary kids, and community dances where profits go to charity.

As a youth member, I was able to suggest my own ideas about how to improve and positively change my community. More than two years later, I’m still on it, voicing my opinions about Redmond, and I am the executive Voice committee chair, which means I am head of one of the three committees that comprises to form RYPAC.

We have meetings the first and third Thursdays of the month from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Redmond Schoolhouse Community Center. I am personally inviting all of you reading this to try and come to one meeting. Anyone is welcome and I know you will not regret it.

But like I was saying, there are so many other volunteer opportunities; RYPAC is not the only one. Another one is the Old Fire House Teen Center. They have many internships there for teens and many programs teens create based on their interests. The staff is so welcoming and if you just tell them what kind of things you like, they help you get involved.

What are you interested in? History? Poetry? Art? Music? The Fire House is not only a city-sponsored teen program, where you can hangout for free during drop-in hours, but has local bands play shows there; they host game nights, and fun events for holidays like dances, competitions, and teen feeds. This place is such a fun, exciting hangout and easy place to get community hours for and I suggest anyone who hasn’t been there before, go and check it out and you will not be disappointed.

I understand some of you teens are busy with AP classes, taking care of families, or working up to 30 hours during the week. True, most people who volunteer have that load also, so you are not alone and doing one community service project a month will not take up that much time. So I am not saying to put all your other responsibilities aside in order to help out, but I am just asking to do something that benefits others in your spare time.

Although there are so many other opportunities in this community, I cannot list them all, but I know you can do some research to find out what is for you!

So please, take my advice and do something good for your community. Not only will it make you feel great that you are helping out, but your community can be improved because of your great ideas. And you never know, you could have a brilliant idea that could make Redmond the coolest place to live.

So go ahead and get out there and make a difference here; you are young now and have the resources to do it.

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