Volunteering Enriches Lives

Volunteering Enriches Lives

Lillian Tullio

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead, American Anthropologist. Summer is quickly approaching and this is the perfect time for high school students to consider the importance and value of volunteer opportunities in our community. Whether you’re applying to attend college after high school or seeking permanent employment, volunteer work will prepare you in valuable ways. 

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi, Social Activist. Colleges and employers consider people who serve their communities over those who do not. Why? Volunteering teaches teens to socialize with a wide range of people from all backgrounds and of all ages. A volunteer learns to meet deadlines, to work as part of a team, and the importance of being on time. Specific skills are required for volunteer/service positions. A volunteer must be friendly, willing to follow directions, a good listener, always act with integrity, and have a genuine passion to help others. Reliability and commitment is high on the list of volunteer qualifications because if you don’t show up, those in need of your services will suffer which can poorly reflect on the organization you are volunteering with. While a volunteer gives a lot to their community, there is so much to gain! Volunteering helps teens to learn new skills or enhance the skills they already have in areas such as decision making, communication, and time management. A long-term, consistent volunteer experience shows potential colleges and employers that you have developed leadership skills and good character which is highly valued in any student or employee.

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” ~ Sir Winston Churchill, British Statesman. Volunteer/community service provides you with the opportunity to explore a career while learning to help others. Thinking you might want a career in the medical field? Volunteering at Monmouth Medical Center or with your local EMS would provide you with hands-on experience to determine if this is a career path you wish to pursue. A volunteer experience may uncover that the medical field isn’t for you! Do you love animals? Try volunteering at your local veterinary hospital or the Monmouth County SPCA. Consider what you are passionate about and choose a volunteer/service experience that will further your exposure in that area. Remember, it’s ok to discover you don’t enjoy a particular field! It’s so much better to find that out now and not waste valuable time discovering this when you get to college or into your first job.

“He who wishes to secure the good of others, has already secured his own.” ~ Confucius, Chinese Philosopher. The perspective teens have of the world can be limited. For example, working with at-risk children, teaching senior citizens to read, packing food for hungry families at the food pantry, or reading to cancer patients during their chemotherapy treatments can be eye-opening experiences that life has not prepared us for! Teenagers must gain an understanding of the reality of life through seeing the pain and challenges that others face in our community and that we do not typically experience in our high school. The greater our experiences, the more we build character and promote maturity. Volunteering and community service teaches us to have compassion and empathy for those in need. 

“No man can become rich without himself enriching others.” Andrew Carnegie, American Industrialist. Volunteers do not collect a paycheck. In lieu of a pay, teens learn for free. High school volunteers get to explore and grow in their perspectives and maturity which prepares them to be productive members of a college community and/or employees. Volunteer and community service experiences provide teens with the valuable tools they need for leadership and to be good communicators who have a sense of awareness and can comfortably interact with those in need. Volunteers are priceless to our community!

“One of the most important things you can do on this earth is to let people know they are not alone.” ~Shannon L. Alder, Inspirational Author. Monmouth County offers a wide range of possible experiences for teens. Here are a few for your consideration:


  • The Monmouth County Library Teen Advisory Board
  • Food Bank of Monmouth County
  • Make a Wish
  • Monmouth Medical Center
  • Freehold EMS/Your Local EMS 
  • St. Brigid’s Food Pantry
  • Hospice Volunteers
  • Monmouth County SPCA
  • Kids CORP Teen Volunteers
  • St. Peter’s Thrift Shop
  • Challenged Youth Sports
  • American Red Cross


All of these organizations (and many more) have web pages that can be found through a google search. BUT, here’s an important word of caution! College admissions counselors openly admit that volunteer/service experiences must be consistent, long-term, genuine, and reflect the passion of the potential student. Listing a few short-term service experiences on your college application as a resume building accolade could actually hurt you more than it could help you. It’s much better to commit to one volunteer/community service activity for the long-term! Document your volunteer/community service hours. ASK your volunteer supervisor to provide you with a letter of reference that details your time and dedication to their organization. Follow your passion!

“As you grow older you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself and one for helping others.” ~ Audrey Hepburn, American Actress. We live in a world where everyone needs to give more of themselves to others. Never in our history has there been a louder call for people to come together to help others. Volunteering will make you a stronger college applicant, a better employee, increase your feelings of self worth, and grow your desire to be kind, generous and empathetic toward others. Volunteering will make you understand the importance of good character! Community service is not always supervised through an organization, sometimes it’s just a smile or a kind word and sometimes it’s much more.