day zero project: volunteering

Since I’ve been talking about volunteering “more” (as if I was really doing much of any volunteering before), for several years, it seemed about time to do something about it. In a fit of productivity, I put it on my day zero list. That made me feel pretty good. Then I talked out loud, to many people, about wanting to volunteer more. Weeks passed. Recently a friend tried getting me to go with her to volunteer at a domestic violence shelter, but I missed the first meeting and never tried to catch up. Because, I stink. And I won’t lie, I was a little intimidated by that kind of gig.

So on Friday I took a step toward doing something just slightly less terrifying to me: tutoring/mentoring at-risk teens. I’m signed up for a weekly session. I have orientation scheduled. I think it’s something I could do well, it’s just starting out is scary. The first step is the hardest, you know, that old chestnut.

I’m a little freaked out! But excited. And also desperately searching my sieve-brain for things I still remember from any class in high school. Any advice for relating to teenagers? I know some of you out there are really good at this.

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8 Responses to day zero project: volunteering

  1. Jo says:

    For teenagers: treat ’em like people, not kids.

    I’m wicked impressed! That’s actually a bit scarier to me than a domestic violence shelter, but I’m sure that you will ROCK it.

  2. liz says:

    this is awesome, and i’m jealous. my heart aches to work with teens. i’ll find a way to do it again, i know. but meanwhile- jealousy.

    what jo said! they’re “grown ups” in their own minds. if you’re dealing with at-risk teens, they’ll be anticipating you to try to squash them. if they are rude or disrespectful, it’s only because they’re trying to force you to respect them before you have a chance to disrespect them.

  3. Beth says:

    I second the advice above plus…Force yourself to plan on being a part of this volunteer program for awhile–most often kids are at-risk because adults float in and out of their lives. Volunteering is awesome but sooo hard to make time for (I know, I’m guilty of not doing much right now…)

  4. Kimberly says:

    Nope, I’ve only worked with younger kids — teenagers scare me a bit. But! Happy times, volunteering. I used to do it quite a bit, but then I moved and it’s been surprisingly hard to find the right situation.

  5. You’ll be awesome! Will you be focusing on specific subjects or just helping out with whatever? In general I guess just tailor your academic advice to the assignment, which hopefully the kid will bring with him or her. As far as the personal/mentoring stuff, definitely listening & adult treatment go a long way. That means both being sympathetic and holding a kid accountable, as the situation warrants.

    I went to a training session for tutoring at the Museum of Unnatural History in DC but it doesn’t really fit with my work schedule unless I go to work at like 6 am, so I never followed up. But maybe this is the inspiration I need!

  6. Zan says:

    When I worked in DC I volunteered through DC Cares, they are a really good organization and once you sign up and attend the main orientation you can go to any spur of the moment volunteer gig that fits your schedule, or you can sign up for a more long term project. You should try it out!

    • Kimberly says:

      That’s funny, when I lived in New York, I volunteered through New York Cares, which was always incredibly easy and a great experience. I didn’t know there was a DC Cares! Do you know if they’re affiliated?

  7. oh wow, believe it or not I thought about that the other day. i have free time right now, i want to be doing more things worthwhile with it. go you!

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