September 5, 2013 at 09:52pm
By Brad Jamison: contributing writer and founder of Good Citizen.
Back-to-school time is an annual reminder of the many service opportunities we have to help ensure kids have a fun and productive school year.
While I find great joy in doing all sorts of service, one of the things that delights me the most and provides enormous satisfaction is working with a nonprofit that benefits kids. In fact, last year, when I conducted Thirty Days of Service – 30 service projects with 30 organizations in 30 consecutive days – I spent nearly one-third of my time volunteering to help kids.
One of the most exhausting, yet rewarding, days of my thirty came when I volunteered with KaBOOM!. On that 90 degree day, I joined 200 others to build a new playground for the kids of an LA-area community. When we arrived at the site there was nothing to be seen other than a vacant space where an old dilapidated playground once stood and a sea of people eager to help. But, when we left there was a gorgeous, safe place for kids to play. It reminded me of the types of play space I was fortunate enough to grow up with, which is why I love doing these builds.
It is on a day like this, one when strangers come together with a common goal that I am reminded of the truth in one of my favorite quotes from Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” On that day, we changed the world for the kids in this community.
Another thing I love about service is seeing the impact I have on the person I am helping. One place that happens for me, over and over, is at the Boys & Girls Club of Hollywood. I have been on the Board of the Club for more than four years, a role that brings me great joy and satisfaction. But, from time to time, I also volunteer with them in other ways.
During my Thirty Days of Service, I spent an afternoon helping kids with their homework in the Club’s learning center, which is where I visibly witnessed the impact I was having. I was sitting working with a young man struggling with his math assignment, something I could relate to, as I was never a superstar when it came to math. As I tried to help him, offering up various ways he could approach the equation, he grew more and more frustrated and was nearly begging me to just give him the answer. Not one to give in too easily to the charms of sweet kids, I kept working with him when suddenly something I said clicked with him and he was able to arrive at the correct answer. That little moment felt like magic for both of us!
Speaking of magic, the folks at Playworks might not be magicians, but they are experts at transforming schools by providing play and physical activity at recess and throughout the school day. I have seen firsthand how their hands-on approach helps build self-esteem in kids through play in a positive, supportive and non-threatening environment. As a kid who was frequently teased and picked last in gym, I know how intimidating the playground can be and I wish Playworks had been around for me. The day I served with Playworks, I wrote the following in my blog, “Many of life’s lessons are learned on the playground and I am thrilled that these kids, and kids at other Playworks schools, have an opportunity to learn those lessons in a safe and supportive environment. For the kids, it might seem like it’s just playtime, but we adults know it’s much more than that.”
So, whether it’s helping a teacher or kid, playing or instructing, there are so many ways to give to our next generation of leaders. I hope that during this back-to-school season, you will join me in pledging to find a way to serve this school year and help ensure a bright future for all.
About the author
Brad Jamison is a pro-social marketing expert, speaker, writer, producer, service advocate, philanthropist and founder of Good Citizen. A volunteer since he was 8, last year Brad conducted Thirty Days of Service – 30 service projects with 30 organizations in 30 consecutive days, for which he was honored with the Daily Point of Light Award, which recognizes the power of the individual to spark change and improve the world.
See Brad live:
Below is a video of Brad on day 28 of his service with Kaboom. For more videos, click here.
Related GreatNonprofits posts:
- Giving Time Gives You Time Also
- What Your Kids Get Out of Giving Back
- Best Volunteer Opportunities for Youth