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How teens can make the most of their vacation

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SALUTE TO VOLUNTEERS If you’re hoping to find a meaningful way to spend your vacation, consider lending a hand to volunteer organizations
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By JACQUELYN LUCERO

Images from LOOB INC., SOS CHILDREN’S VILLAGE PHILIPPINES, and the PHILIPPINE ARMY

Thinking of something better to do this summer vacation? Why not volunteer? Volunteerism is the act of giving your time and skills to help others without expecting any financial reward. It’s a powerful way to make a positive impact on your community and the world. Whether it’s helping at a local food bank, mentoring a student, or participating in a cleanup drive, volunteers play a crucial role in addressing social, environmental, and economic issues.

At its core, volunteerism is about selflessness and compassion. It fosters a sense of community and connectedness, bringing people together for a common cause. Volunteers often report feeling a deep sense of satisfaction and fulfillment from their work. They gain new skills, make new friends, and feel more connected to their communities.

There are many forms of volunteer work. Community service might involve helping in local neighborhoods, organizing community events, assisting in libraries, or supporting local shelters. Environmental volunteering includes activities like tree planting, beach clean-ups, and wildlife conservation efforts. Educational volunteering can involve tutoring students, helping in schools, or leading workshops to share knowledge and skills. In health and social care, volunteers might work at hospitals, senior homes, or support health campaigns and social services. International volunteering offers the chance to join global organizations to work on projects abroad, such as disaster relief, development programs, or cultural exchange initiatives.

The spirit of volunteerism is deeply ingrained in Filipino culture, often seen through the value of bayanihan, a tradition of communal unity and cooperation. Volunteerism in the Philippines has historical roots. During times of natural disasters, Filipinos have always come together to help those in need. This spirit of bayanihan is evident in how communities rally to support each other through various crises, from typhoons to volcanic eruptions.

Today, volunteerism in the Philippines is more structured, with numerous o r g a n i z a t i o n s dedicated to various causes. Disaster response is a significant area, given the country’s vulnerability to natural disasters. Many volunteers are trained in disaster preparedness and response, with organizations like the Philippine Red Cross playing a vital role. Education-focused programs, such as Teach for the Philippines, aim to improve the quality of education by placing volunteers in schools across the country. Environmental efforts by groups like the Haribon Foundation focus on conservation projects, encouraging volunteers to participate in activities like tree planting and wildlife protection. Community development organizations like Gawad Kalinga work on building homes and sustainable communities for the poor, relying heavily on volunteer labor and support.

While volunteerism is strong in the Philippines, challenges such as limited resources, a lack of awareness, and coordination issues can hinder efforts. The rise of social media and digital platforms, however, has created new opportunities for mobilizing volunteers, spreading awareness, and organizing efforts more efficiently.

For those interested in volunteering in the Philippines, it’s helpful to research causes that you are passionate about and look for organizations working in those areas. Reaching out to these organizations to inquire about volunteer opportunities is a good next step. Some volunteer activities may require specific skills or training, so be prepared to undergo orientation or training sessions. Once involved, dedicating your time and energy, even if it’s just a few hours a week, can make a significant difference.

Check out some of these organizations and apply online.

• SOS Children’s Village

• NGO Loob

• Volunteer Match

Check on these too:

• Local LGUs

• Senior homes in your area

• Orphanages

• Civil-Military Operations Batallion under the Philippine Army (check your local areas)

For teens on summer vacation, this is a perfect time to get involved in volunteer work. Instead of spending all your free time on leisure activities, consider dedicating some of it to helping others. Volunteering not only benefits your community but also helps you develop new skills, gain valuable experience, and make meaningful connections. It’s a chance to do something fulfilling and impactful, setting a positive example for your peers.

Before applying, ensure you meet these guidelines.

• Age Requirement: You must be 18 years old or older. If you are under 18, make sure you are supervised by an adult or your teacher.

• Guidance: Seek guidance from an able adult or a mentor before applying, especially if this is your first time volunteering. • Peer volunteerism: If it’s your first time volunteering, consider doing so with your peers. Ensure adult supervision if you and your peers are under 18.

• Local organizations: Choose organizations in your area to make volunteering more accessible.

• Clear intentions: Be clear about your availability. If you can only volunteer for a few days or weeks, communicate this to the organization without hesitation.

Following these steps will help you have a successful and fulfilling volunteer experience. For those who are older or have volunteer experience, check out this list.

• iVolunteer

• Volunteer World

• Volunteer HQ

These links provide volunteer opportunities around the Philippines and abroad. Note that some programs may have associated fees. Be sure to read the details carefully and choose wisely. Volunteerism, whether in the Philippines or anywhere else in the world, is a testament to the power of human kindness and community spirit. It not only benefits those in need but also enriches the lives of volunteers, creating a ripple effect of positive change. By giving our time and skills, we can all contribute to a better, more compassionate world.

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Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph

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