By Ginny Greer, Managing Features Editor
“Attention National Honor Society: Your service hours are due no later than next Thursday.” More than a few of us groan when we hear this announcement in early May.
All throughout our day we keep thinking to ourselves ,“Oh my stars and stripes, I have to get twenty volunteer hours in ONE WEEK?”
Contrary to what our parents might be yelling at us as we break the news that we will be spending the weekend re-shelving books at the library, our procrastination is not always the result of indifference to humanity. With a year crammed full of research papers, science fair, and AP coursework, it is easy to let something we have the entire year to do get pushed to the back burner.
But I don’t think that twenty service hours begrudgingly completed at the eleventh hour is what our Honor Society leaders have in mind when they implore us to “give of ourselves.”
Here are a few ideas on how to complete the required volunteer work for various clubs in a way that will be morally fulfilling and manageable.
- FIND ONE OR TWO LOCATIONS AND MAKE YOURSELF KNOWN
Sure, you can collect an hour or two at a dozen different locations and get the necessary documentation to maintain membership in your clubs. But it is much better to pick a cause that is important to you—assistance to the elderly, mentorship to young children, political activism—and become a regular volunteer at a venue that promotes this cause. Start early in the year doing research to find out where your talents are needed in the Little Rock community and make a phone call to the Volunteer Coordinator of that organization. Try to arrange your schedule so that you can show up on a regular basis to serve. This way, you can build a relationship with the people you are helping, which will make your work more meaningful to you and them both.
- STAY ON TOP OF DOCUMENTATION
When you show up to an organization to offer your service, the members of that organization are (naturally) more focused on what you can do for them than what they can do for you. It is important that the time you give is logged at the organization so that when they are writing your letter in the spring, they have hard proof of the time you gave throughout the year. Each time you check in to your volunteer site, politely remind whoever is in charge that you need to sign in, and before you leave, remind them that you need to sign out. If possible, keep a copy of your log sheet at home so that there is a spare in case the site’s copy is misplaced.
- ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING
Remember that giving of yourself is more than just showing up. Organizations appreciate volunteers who demonstrate a bright spirit and an open-minded attitude. Make an impression on the people you serve by asking what you can do to help right off the bat rather than waiting for someone to give you an order, shutting off your phone and giving your full focus to your work, and completing your assignments with enthusiasm and engagement.
Every time you show up to volunteer you are building a reputation for yourself and for Central. Even a small number of apathetic or rude volunteers from a particular school can be enough to give an organization a bad impression of the school as a whole. Be mindful of how you conduct yourself when volunteering and you will be more likely to make organizations want to help you get your documentation and be receptive to volunteers from Central in the future.