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There are plenty of ways to volunteer and there’s most likely one that fits your liking. Whether you’re looking for something close to home, at your college, or abroad – there’s a way to get involved and spend your time. We’ve compiled a quick list to make things easy!
If you’re in your hometown:
- Tutor. Maybe it’s your friends little brother that could use some help with math or someone at school. It could be a person you know or a complete stranger. Take a look at local organizations like Boys & Girls Clubs of America and your local library to see what’s out there. And if school isn’t your jam, you could always help by coaching a sport!
- Write. This could be anything from a letter to a congressman about an issue your passionate about to writing a letter to troops who are far away. Check out Operation Gratitude, Soldiers Angels, or do a quick Google search to find other organizations that can send your letter to stationed military. It’s like being a pen pal but for a good cause!
- Donate. Give your time to a neighbor who might need help with yard work, or gather your friends together and bring your old clothes to a Goodwill. Donating and hanging out, talk about a score! You can also spend some time at a retirement home and play chess, checkers, or hear about someone else’s life stories. The opportunities are endless.
- Community Service Project. Whether you’re at Berkeley or Yale, both have a project that gives back to the local community. After spending some time in the area, you’ll have learned a lot and the skills you’ve acquired will be used in community service. Plus you’ll get a certificate for 8 hours worth.
- Academic Trips. While not really a form of volunteering, you’ll definitely be learning. Depending on what you’re studying – medicine and public health, law and government, and many others – you will visit a professional environment in that field. Make sure to make connections to those working because who knows, the opportunity may arise for you to volunteer at that organization!
- Explore. When part of springboard you’ll have plenty of opportunities to venture into the city, to dive into the subject you chose to focus on, and to meet new people. Take all of it in and let that inspire you in a different way. Maybe it will confirm what you want to do academically in college or give you a new idea on how to get involved in that field, or perhaps try something different altogether.
If you’re a part of the GLA volunteer programs overseas:
- Teach. There are many opportunities for you to help teach English or literacy to kids who are struggling with it. A great country to look at is the program in Africa like Tanzania. And if science is more your thing, then look into the GLA program in Bali, where you’ll be sharing about modern day medicine.
- Work. Regardless of what GLA program you decide to partake in you will end up working in that environment. It could look like anything from building a house to restoring traditional temples. Talk about trying new things! Be sure to check out the different countries that GLA has to offer and see which one you would want to spend the most time in!
- Give Back. Without even realizing it, you’ll be giving back to the community that you are in. From helping with the specific destination needs to becoming friends with the locals, you’ll have made an impact in the country.
Which of these wonderful volunteer opportunities for teens would you choose? Let us know in the comments!
Contributed by Samantha Watkins
While anyone who engages in US and world politics might try to tell you that green energy and sustainability are taking a huge beating, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Even though green projects still don’t have mainstream or widespread government backing in most of the world, that hasn’t stopped some serious forward thinking individuals and governmental bodies from undertaking some truly amazing sustainable building projects. Here are some of the most amazing projects undertaken in recent years.
1. Eco City – Hamburg, Germany
The Eco City is a project being undertaken in Hamburg on the shores of once-forgotten Harburg Harbor. Germany has always been a country taking leaps forward in sustainability, and this initiative takes it even further.
The goal of the project is to create a 100% self-sustainable community with 100 percent fully sustainable power sources and its own office buildings, warehouses, and production facilities. It will also include plenty of tourist facilities like hotels, restaurants, and retail spaces. All of that powered by sustainable energy is truly a great example to show the rest of the world it can be done. Let’s hope they finish it up soon.
2. World’s largest wind farm – Shepherds Flat, Oregon
Wind power is becoming quite trendy lately, even in the United Sates. In fact, the US has the world’s largest wind farm in Shepherds Flat, Oregon.
Funded by a generous loan from the US Department of Energy a few years back, the wind farm is said to generate 845 megawatts of power over 30 square miles of land. That’s enough power to run 235,000 average households and may prevent up to 1.5 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year.
3. Bud Clark Commons – Portland, Oregon
OK, I think it’s becoming more obvious that Oregon is a very forward-thinking state in the United States, and this next example is further proof. The Bud Clark Commons is the result of Portland’s 10-year plan to end homelessness. The building serves as a temporary home to homeless people transitioning into more permanent living arrangements.
The building offers a day center, public courtyard, and easy access to transportation. There is a 90-bed temporary shelter area and 130 separate permanent studio apartments that the homeless can transition into. All of this is fully sustainable and certified by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).
The facility has features like graywater recycling, zero stormwater runoff, solar hot water, and a high-performance envelope. The estimated energy savings per year versus fossil fuels is $60,000.
4. Solar energy-collecting bike paths – Netherlands
In the Netherlands, a few companies are joining forces to launch an innovative new idea, bike paths that can harvest solar energy. The project could be a game changer for the world if it works out, proving that much of the world’s sidewalks could be replaced with panels to harvest energy into the grid, potentially saving tons of greenhouse gas emissions and money.
The idea is a simple bike path that’s made of concrete topped with glass. Beneath the surface, silicon solar cells capture energy at an estimated 50 kWh per square mile per year. That sounds pretty small admittedly, but when you scale it up to the size of an average city the savings could be massive.
The path, called the SolaRoad, has already been rolled out in a small test section. It has exceeded expectations so far, which is great news for the future of green roads.
What other sustainable development examples in the real world have you excited for the future? Tell us in the comments!
Contributed by Nicholas Bartholomew
No matter your age or background, participating in a mission trip is a life-changing experience. There are few other more impactful opportunities to broaden your perspective while also safely challenging your personal comfort zones. The sense of togetherness and empowerment achieved from your work will forever remain a part of you and the way you observe the world. The thought of traveling abroad with people you don’t know for any extended period of time can, however, seem difficult and intimidating. Don’t be fooled. This is one experience you absolutely don’t want to miss out on. Here are five great reasons you should jump at the opportunity to participate in a short term mission trip, no matter how old you are or where you live.
1. Knowledge That You Made a Difference in the World
Whether you’re helping children learn to read, digging wells, or rebuilding homes after a natural disaster, the work you do on your mission trip will impact the lives of other people. The knowledge that you have made a difference, even for just a single person, will be something you can be proud of for years to come.
2. Ability to Easily Manage Your Trip around School or Work
While long term mission trips offer participants the opportunity to make change on a bigger scale, taking off from school or work for an indeterminate amount of time simply isn’t possible for everyone. Short term service trips, on the other hand, often span only 10 to 14 days and can be scheduled over holiday breaks or by using paid vacation time.
3. Opportunity to Use What You Learn Abroad When You Get Home
You will likely return from your mission trip with knowledge of and proficiency in many new things, regardless of the duration of your service. This new understanding, as well as any acquired skills, can often be put to great use at home, in your church, and within your community.
4. Chance to Explore without Long-Term Commitment to a Single Place
Traveling abroad can be scary, especially if you’ve never done it before. Opting to participate in a short term mission trip allows for a sampling of the experience and the location without making a long term commitment. Participating in several short term service trips to different places can often help you better determine what you’re meant to be doing and where you’re called most to do it.
5. Expansion and/or Revitalization of Your Faith in People
One thing is certain; joining together on mission trips for young adults and other like-minded people giving selflessly to achieve a common goal is good for the soul. Whether you’ve been feeling unfulfilled and disconnected or are simply seeking to expand upon and express your faith in other people a new way, a short term mission trip may be exactly what you need.
Contributed by Amanda Vosloh Bowyer