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#213184 - 06/10/06 01:09 PM What About Making Volunteerism Commonplace?
SimonB Offline
By Wendy Auxillou Sunday, June 11, 2006


In Cuba, teenagers attending high school are required to put in several months of social work as part of their professional training. This can range anywhere from serving food to the sick, to being assistants to professionals in the field under which they are training, to learning how to grow food in rural and urban gardens to any other positive experience that can only help that teenager grow so much more. Social work is mandatory under the school system there.

In Belize, we are now into graduation season. Within a week or two, a large percentage of our teenagers will soon find themselves idle at home without supervision. Their parents will have their jobs cut out for them, wondering how to cope for three months with this hotbed of bored and unsupervised high energy. While we read in the newspapers of equestrian resorts offering summer camps and the like, these are usually for a fee. What about the teenagers whose parents cannot afford the cost of summer camps?

I silently debated this dilemma to myself this week when I realized my girls would soon be out of school. The girls and I have already agreed on a special two-week summer family trip, but what if rather than just handing a summer trip to them on a silver platter, I instead asked of them that they EARN it? What if I first asked of them to volunteer a week of their time and energy to an institution that needed help? And what if that week’s worth of social work would humble them some and make them a better and a better exposed person in the long run? And what if through social work they uncovered a professional field they would prefer to pursue in life? Wouldn’t that be a good thing?

Great idea in hand, I called up my friend, KHMH CEO Dr. Alvaro Rosado, to inquire if the KHMH could use some voluntary help. His response was immediate and emphatic. The hospital has a container of medicines it needs to unload and catalog and could surely use the help.

Institution needing help now identified, I then broached the idea of volunteering to the girls who immediately agreed to participate. They, in turn, broached the idea to two cousins who are also willing volunteers and now we are up to four willing sets of hands. We invited this group of four to each invite one friend along to bring the complement up to eight sets of hands. I have not gotten further updates as to whether that has been accomplished but I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t be. My girls are great girls and their cousins are great guys and surely there are four more great teenagers they know who are equally as wonderful and that would be willing to help. I can think of one in particular. Ashton, we’ll be coming for you too!

Having teenagers of the iPod age be exposed to how others often live, or even the suffering of others, is humbling and an important lesson in itself. One cannot help but feel moved by the suffering of others. It helps to put your own life into perspective many times over.

In this age in Belize’s history where daily life is rampant with consumerism and materialism — where the emphasis is much higher on what someone else can do for you (taking) and not necessarily what we as a community can do for each other (giving) — it is time that we begin to temper the influences of a summer of commercialization with some real world giving. Community service can easily fill that void. Social service is a heartwarming activity parents should be proud to have their sons and daughters participate in. Most of all, it is a good, solid, fulfilling character-building activity that costs nothing and is great for everyone involved.

I feel much better knowing that my kids will be working to earn their summer vacations and not just taking the generosities life has offered them for granted.

Stop for a minute and just think of the many other institutions that do so much good for our community that could also use some help. Wondeful institutions such as the Children’s Home, the Rest House, the Salvation Army, etc. need all the help they can get.

What if there was one designated NGO that volunteered to compile two lists: a list of institutions seeking voluntary summer help and a list of teenagers willing to do summer volunteer work? This would certainly help to bridge the gap between fretful parents and idle teenagers on the one hand and the staffing needs of the important community social institutions on the other hand. To me, it seems like a win, win situation for all. Volunteer Summer Camp is the way to go! Do we hear a “yay” from a volunteer NGO?

Questions or comments: Please write to me at wendy_auxillou@yahoo.com. Thanks for reading!

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#213185 - 06/12/06 01:44 PM Re: What About Making Volunteerism Commonplace?
spots101x Offline
What a fantastic project Ms. Auxillou has undertaken...I look forward to meeting her on my next trip to SP/CC. Please keep me posted on their success and I bet others would be interested in hearing how the summer ends for these teens.
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#213186 - 06/12/06 04:46 PM Re: What About Making Volunteerism Commonplace?
tacogirl Offline
I just wish it was easier for non residents to volunteer.

I have time and would love to helo, but hear I am not able to without a permit.
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#213187 - 06/12/06 06:32 PM Re: What About Making Volunteerism Commonplace?
kris48 Offline
Teens here who want a state scholarship must not just have the grades, but also volunteer 75 hours in the 4 years of HS. Most of the schools now have extensive service clubs, that meet during the school year, and sponsers who seek out the volunteer opportunities. Maybe someone at the school would be willing to start organizing this.

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#213188 - 06/12/06 08:24 PM Re: What About Making Volunteerism Commonplace?
SimonB Offline
Not to knock the concept but 18.75 hours per year hardly makes it seem worthwhile. One hour of TV or video games per day turned into one hour of volunteer work wouldn't hurt anyone.

My beef with some of these programmes is what is considered "volunteer" work. One of my friends kid's had to do community service which involved changing the ad signs on the local transit authority buses. Not exactly what you would call meaningful work.


"What if there was one designated NGO that volunteered to compile two lists: a list of institutions seeking voluntary summer help and a list of teenagers willing to do summer volunteer work? This would certainly help to bridge the gap between fretful parents and idle teenagers on the one hand and the staffing needs of the important community social institutions on the other hand. To me, it seems like a win, win situation for all. Volunteer Summer Camp is the way to go! Do we hear a “yay” from a volunteer NGO?"

If you could get from the Peace Corp. one coordinator for each district and an office in Belize City with two coordinators you could probably do very decent job. There really needs to be a clearinghouse for all volunteer organizations in the country. So much good could be done if everyone had easy access to information on who needs help be it bodies, goods and services or funds.

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#213189 - 06/12/06 10:50 PM Re: What About Making Volunteerism Commonplace?
kris48 Offline
Then we have the over-achievers, who do 10 times, or more what's required. Actually, I think some get "hooked" on volunteer work. A few areas to look at, and I do understand cultural differences there may make some of this more awkward: the elderly (weed, sweep, clean, paint, run errands, read to, respite care for caregivers), the children (read to, read with, tutor, teach, play with them, sing with them, Set up camps and vacation Bible school, etc.) the animals (same as the kids, but clean up after, socialize), the ecology (teams cleaning roads, beaches, etc.) Okay, you get the idea. Yes, you need a coordinator. There's only one real problem with this type of volunteering, the kids who really do it right, end up gaining so much more than the people, animals, land they help! There are plenty of us on the message board (I hope) who would be more than happy to help out with a few supplies here and there. Say a few kids books, a pack of cleaning cloths, some trash bags. A project a few years ago: my son organized a kids soccer camp at a Marine base in Japan. I asked for post cards from a Moms group online. The kids were fascinated with the 150 postcards from all over the world! No real money, but the kids loved it. Think of the possibilities out there guys.

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#213190 - 06/14/06 03:46 AM Re: What About Making Volunteerism Commonplace?
Pedro1 Offline
Wait until tomorrow-this is going to be fun.
1. Cuba -used as a shining example-every single citizen from that country wishes to live in the U.S.
2.Lets get your girls to work for free and in the mean time stop someone getting a paid job that would support his family.-also let us get more foreigners down here esp. when their parent(s) earn enough money to support them,and then able to go on message boards and cover themselves in glory for what their progeny have done-more to come

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#213191 - 06/14/06 08:20 PM Re: What About Making Volunteerism Commonplace?
GAY AND DAVID Offline
i would take one of those citizens from cuba if they would like to volunteer at my house.
i will let the teenager volunteer somewhere else since her work habits are spazy & airheady.

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#213192 - 06/14/06 08:30 PM Re: What About Making Volunteerism Commonplace?
Anonymous
There are a couple of jobs on the island for which I'd be willing to volunteer . . . wink

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#213193 - 06/14/06 10:30 PM Re: What About Making Volunteerism Commonplace?
Sir Isaac Newton Offline
did someone say young girls?
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