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5 Reasons Your Teen Should Volunteer This Summer

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5 Reasons Your Teen Should Volunteer This Summer

Summer is a great time for your teenage to work in some valuable volunteer time. Luckily for them – and for you – there are lots of places to do that in Huntsville and North Alabama this summer! But why should your young adult even bother with finding places to volunteer during their much-anticipated school break? Here’s five reasons why, along with a great list of organizations that need your teen’s help this summer.

Reason #1: It Makes Them a Better Person
The personal development advantages of volunteering are HUGE. Teens can evolve their work ethic and leadership skills, something they just can’t achieve completely sitting in a classroom. It’s also proven when teens feel part of something bigger than themselves they develop a stringer sense of self-esteem in their personal lives.

Reason #2: It Strengthens Huntsville
Spending time helping at the organizations listed below makes teens more aware of the community’s needs and how they are able to help. This sense of service will follow them into adulthood, and over time will make a huge impact on the prosperity and success of their own neighborhoods.

Reason #3: It Helps Them Save Money On College
Most college scholarships require at least some form of volunteer hours in order to even apply. Why not get those hours over the summer? There’s no shame in that game – volunteering is a win-win situation.

Reason #4: It Busts Boredom & Keeps Kids Busy
Whoever said “idle hands are the devil’s workshop” wasn’t wrong. Time spent volunteering is less time spent being bored or playing video games for hours on end. Plus there are many options that also get teens outside and doing something physical and/or meaningful.

Reason #5: Provides an Empathetic Outlook & Teaches Problem-Solving
Today’s teens are more stressed than ever. Volunteering is an opportunity to experience and develop cognitive empathy. “If empathy helps us sympathize with how another person is feeling, cognitive empathy also allows us to try to understand someone else’s perspective and how they perceive the world, even when our feelings differ.”

But What If My Teen Can’t Volunteer Regularly?

Looking for a few “one-and-done” volunteer opportunities? The Volunteer Center of Madison County has a great database you can use to search for opportunities by age. You can use this year-round, not just for summer. They are a fantastic community resource – please tell them Rocket City Mom sent you!

NOTE: The organizations listed below offer a variety of volunteer opportunities for teens. Some have more on-site supervision than others. Some volunteer jobs are indoors, some are outdoors, and some require more physical labor than others. Parents and their teens should ask questions and discover more about each program by talking directly through the volunteer coordinator or program manager to see which programs are best for them. That said, the information here is a great jumping off point.

Library Teen Volunteer Program

Bailey Cove Public Library

View Website | Phone: 256-881-0257
Deadline: April 28, 2017 for ages 14-18 years
Contact: Lorie Hubscher, lhubscher@hmcpl.org
Needs: Need to gain work experience or enjoy helping your community in a fun and educational environment? Join our teen student volunteer program. You must be between 14 and 18 years old, have a parent or guardian’s permission and a genuine desire to volunteer! We are accepting applications until April 28, 2017. For more information, pick up the application at the Bailey Cove Library at 1409 Weatherly Plaza or email lhubscher@hmcpl.org


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Huntsville Public Library Downtown

View Website | Phone: 256-532-5982
Deadline: April 30, 2017 for ages 14-18 years
Contact: Julia Hendon, jhendon@hmcpl.org
Needs: The Downtown Huntsville Teen Summer Volunteer program runs from May 31-July 28. Teens can pick up an application at the Downtown Library – they do require a letter of recommendation to be mailed or emailed to the youth services librarian, as well as a short interview with the librarian. A mandatory orientation will be on May 16 at 6:00 PM and 20 at 10:30 AM. Student volunteer duties include but are not limited to: shelving children’s and young adult books, preparing crafts, aiding teen programs, assisting with special summer reading programs for children, and participating in story hour at the direction of the librarian.

Madison Public Library

View Website | Phone: 256-461-0046
Deadline: April 28, 2017 for ages 13-18 or grades 7-12 (graduates must apply to adult volunteer program)
Contact: Maggie Allen, mallen@hmcpl.org or LeAnna Whitaker, lwhitaker@hmcpl.org
Needs: Application, essay, and two reference letters due APRIL 28; application and essay are due in person. Reference letters can be emailed. Minimum commitment of 20 hrs between May-August 2017. Teens will be notified that they’ve been accepted by May 1, 2017. Mandatory TAG meeting/summer volunteer training will be on Wednesday, May 3 @ 4pm. Assistance with library programs (including storytimes, puppets shows, movies, science clubs, etc). Maintain Summer Reading signup table. Assist patrons in locating materials and computer help (as needed.) Shelve library materials. Additional duties as assigned.

Other Local Volunteer Programs

Burritt on the Mountain

View Website | Phone: 256-533-1365
Deadline: Ongoing, accepting volunteers ages 14+
Contact: Joan Morehead, Volunteer Director, joan.morehead@huntsvilleal.gov
Needs: Volunteers to assist with special events, summer camps, and classes at Burritt this summer.

CASA Community Garden

View Website | Phone: 256-533-7775
Deadline: Ongoing, accepting applications now for ages 14+
Contact: Inquire by email (askus@casamadisoncty.org) or phone
Needs: Volunteers to plant, weed, and harvest produce at the CASA Community Garden.

Christmas Charities Year Round

View Website | Phone: 256-837-2373
Deadline: Ongoing, accepting applications for 14+
Contact: Email ccyr@christmascharitiesyearround.org
Needs: Volunteers to help in thrift store and sorting and organizing donations.

Early Works Children’s Museum

View Website | Phone: 256-564-8100
Deadline: Ongoing for ages 14+
Contact: Andrea Sanchez, andrea.sanchez@huntsvilleal.gov
Needs: Volunteers to help in the museum during summer camps & classes.
We offer numerous volunteer opportunities for students, adults, families and groups. You will have the chance to interact with visitors of all ages and help assist staff at one or all of our three sites. The EarlyWorks Family of Museums is a unique creative environment that allows volunteers to play while they work! Volunteers are asked to wear khakis and a white when volunteering at Earlyworks, black pants and a white shirt if volunteering at the Huntsville Depot, and something light weight to be worn under a provided costume when volunteering at the Alabama Constitution Village.

Free2Teach

View Website | Phone: 256-886-7065
Deadline: Ongoing, accepting volunteers ages 13+
Contact: Eula Battle, eula@free-2-teach.org
Needs: Support public education by helping in our volunteer-run resource store stocked with teaching materials and classroom supplies. It is our goal for 3,500 teachers in Madison County’s 84 public schools to “shop” for free items to make sure more than 50,000 students in our community have adequate classroom materials.

HEALS, Inc.

View Website | Phone: 256-428-7560
Deadline: Ongoing, accepting volunteers ages 14+
Contact: Marijo Braddy, marijo.braddy@healsinc.org
Needs: Volunteers are needed every other Friday morning to assemble hygiene kits to be distributed to our patients at their annual physical exam. Other jobs also include addressing envelopes & filling donations requests.

Heart of the Valley YMCA

View Website | Phone: 256-428-9622 Ext. 3010
Deadline: Ongoing for ages 15+
Contact: Lamont Singleton, Director of Youth Development and Social Responsibility, lamont.singleton@ymcahuntsville.org
Needs: Teen volunteers to help with summer programs at the Y; also to participate in the JustServe volunteer program in the Huntsville community.

HOSPICE Family Care

View Website | Phone: 205-451-3611
Deadline: Ongoing for ages 14+
Contact: Rachel Deaton. rachel.deaton@comfortcarehomehealth.com
Needs: Volunteers to visit and help with support group activities like prepare crafts, programs, and group activities. We would not be Comfort Care Hospice without our volunteers. Our volunteers bring warmth, joy, and tenderness into the daily practice of caring for patients. If you enjoy helping people in need or find a sense of purpose in walking through trials with others, kindly contact us. We are always in need of compassionate, caring people with a heart to serve. *There is an application and screening process that each volunteer must complete.

Huntsville Botanical Garden

View Website | Phone: 256-830-5314
Deadline: Ongoing, 14-15 must be accompanied by a guardian, 16+ can volunteer without one
Contact: Cookie Adams, Volunteer Coordinator, cadams@hsvbg.org
Needs: The Garden Gang – Summer youth program in June and July; Wacky Wednesday Volunteer opportunities; Butterfly House Assistants; Horticulture – Weeding, mulching, planting, watering

Huntsville Museum of Art

View Website | Phone: 256-535-4350 ext. 215
Deadline: Extended to May 12; Age 14 and older to be eligible to volunteer. Check under Museum Academy for more information about the Volunteer Program.
Contact: Amy Thomas, Museum Academy Assistant, athomas@hsvmuseum.org
Needs: In June and July, the Summer Youth Volunteer Program consists of helping before, during and after children’s art classes in the Museum Academy.

See Also

Land Trust of North Alabama

View Website | Phone: 256-534-5263
Deadline: Ongoing, accepting applications now for ages 14+
Contact: Rosie Spaulding, rosie@landtrustnal.org
Needs: Year-round volunteers that like to work outdoors cleaning and maintaining trails on the following dates in 2017: June 3, July 15, August 26, September 30, October 21, November 8, December 9. All dates Weather dependent.

Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment

View Website | Phone: 256-533-0399
Deadline: Ongoing, accepting applications now for ages 15+
Contact: Matt Bakula, mattbakula@lowemill.net
Needs: Year-round volunteers to help with set-up, parking, and clean up for special events.


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Manna House

View Website | Phone: 256-503-4848
Deadline: Ongoing, accepting volunteers ages 15+
Contact: Fran Fluhler, fran@mymannahouse.com
Needs: Volunteers to help serve food weekly, monthly, and nightly on Mondays, Wednesday, and Thursdays from 4pm- 7pm.

Merrimack Hall Performing Arts Center

View Website | Phone: 256-534-6455
Deadline: Ongoing, accepting applications now for ages 13+
Contact: Jen DiCarlo, jdicarlo@merrimackhall.com
Needs: Volunteers are needed for summer camps June 5-9 and June 12-23; volunteers are required to be at least 13 years of age and have an interest in working with students and adults with special needs.

No Kill Huntsville Animal Shelter

View Website | Phone: 256-883-3782
Deadline: Ongoing for ages 16+
Contact: Call or email mail admin@nokillhuntsville.com to sign up
Needs: Volunteers to walk dogs as part of the ‘Come Along Little Doggie’ program, help socialize dogs, do laundry, clean crates, etc.

Raising Men Lawn Care Service

View Website | Contact
Deadline: Ongoing, accepting applications for ages 7-17
Contact: Rodney Smith, Jr. message via Facebook Page
Needs: Young men to provide year-round lawn care for those in need, such as single moms, the elderly, veterans, and the disabled.

Senior Center of Huntsville & Madison County

View Website | Phone: 256-880-7081
Deadline: Ongoing for ages 15+
Contact: Becky Rollston, Activities Coordinator, activities2@seniorview.com
Needs: Volunteers to help serve lunch in the cafeteria and work on craft & community programs.

Senior Center of Madison

View Website | Phone: 256-772-6242
Deadline: Ongoing for ages 15+
Contact: Joy Edwards, Activities Coordinator, Email vickie.parker@madisonal.gov for details
Needs: Volunteers to participate in programs and help prepare crafts & games.

TN Valley AMBUCS

View Website | Phone: 256-520-5194
Deadline: Ongoing, accepting volunteers ages 14+
Contact: Tami Tubell, volunteer coordinator
Needs: Volunteers to help with Ink and Small Electronics Recycle Drive, collecting all ink cartridges, cell phones and more for recycling. Assisting with the Used Shoe Drive, collect pairs of used shoes and bring them to HTV AMBUCS to help us raise money for those in our area that need to help to pay for their AmTryke.

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View Comments (4)
  • Loved this article!! As the mother of a high school junior, I recognize the difficulty in finding good volunteer opportunities for our youth to participate in not only to fulfill their required hours but to accomplish many other benefits both to themselves and to the people they serve. Research shows that other benefits of service can be making connections, increased self-esteem, increased sense of social responsibility, and my favorite as a parent – combats depression! There is a list of other positives that doing service brings that I often refer to. Thank you for your list of suggested organizations and especially that there were a few from Madison! Woohoo! I wish I knew that you were doing this article because It would have been great to have tagged in. I am representing a new website called JustServe.org. I am working the Madison side and Missy Hanks is working the Huntsville side. We would love if RCM wanted to help spread the word about the resource. Madison City has just (last week) adopted JustServe as their city wide volunteering resource and will soon have it up on their website as a link for all looking for volunteer opportunities. There are many local service needs that are already posted on the site. It is a totally free resource given to build goodness throughout the community. JustServe is a national initiative and can be found growing to serve our whole country where ever one tends to travel. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to do a follow up or add on to this already great article about volunteer resources for teens! I would love to spread the news about the resource available to everyone that makes finding opportunities to serve a “one stop shop” experience! It is similar to the Volunteer Center of Madison County and made to work along side, not in competition with this great resource. What JustServe does offer is a way to filter the location of the projects. I noticed when I was searching that the VCofMC projects are not very close to our Madison city schools area, which can be an area of concern for parents of teens. We would love to be a resource for assisting even more families in the greater Huntsville area, so look forward to working with RCM in the near future to spread the word! Thank you!

  • Hi! New to town….do you have any family volunteer ops? My rising 3rd grader wants to help animals! Thanks for a great resource!
    Sheri

    • Hi Sheri – welcome to Huntsville! Yes, we listed the No Kill Shelter here, but you should also check with A New Leash on Life and the Huntsville Humane Society. Both have great websites with volunteer info. Manna House is another place families can volunteer easily if you’re also OK with an organizations that isn’t animal oriented.

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