With school almost out and summer approaching, you may have started brainstorming ways to spend your time. Travel, work, relaxing and sleeping in are certainly on most agendas, but volunteering should be another option on your list.
Summer is one of the best times for students to stock up on community service hours and beef up their college resumes through valuable experiences they take away from helping out.
So here are some suggestions on getting involved and summer volunteer opportunities.
Maybe your heart is set on traveling the world, well not to worry because there is an easy solution; take a volunteer vacation. According to travel.usatoday.com, “Volunteer vacations are a way for travelers to see an area, especially in the developing world, and get to know its people in a way that would be difficult, almost impossible, for tourists.”
For Palomar student Simone Ramirez, traveling to Ensenada, Mexico with a non-profit organization called “A Thousand Smiles” that helps children in need of dental care, was an eye-opening experience. She explained that she not only got to assist kids by playing with and feeding them, but she also got to watch cleft palates get fixed and cleanings and fillings done for free at a naval hospital.
“Volunteering for this is important to me, because I am going into that field,” Ramirez said. “I also like to travel and work with kids. I would love to become an oral surgeon one day and be able to do cleft palates in Africa.”
The clinic, where volunteers can register and gain experience in dental care by helping those children in need, takes place every three months for two days, according to thousandsmiles.org with the next one coming up on May 4 and 5.
“Typically it’s for dental,” Ramirez said. “But anybody can do it.”
For those who want to help out on campus, the Palomar College library is offering an opportunity for volunteer discussion groups this summer.
Those involved with the discussion groups are considered unofficial tutors. Students get credit for leading a group and a letter stating that they volunteered, according to Ruth Barnaba, the coordinator of tutoring at the Library. She said that two-hour tutoring periods can be arranged with her between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.
“Being a tutor is symbiotic in a way, meaning by helping someone else you get something in return,” student tutor Matthew Fain said. “I kind of wish more students knew about the tutoring service, it is a great way to help people and helps reinforce what you already know.”
To become a tutor there is an application process and for more information contact Barnaba at, firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I think volunteering is important because it helps improve your leadership skills and if you eventually want to be a teacher it gives insight,” Barnaba said.
Another popular way of volunteering your time is through clubs on campus. Palomar’s M.E.Ch.A Club, an organization that seeks to promote unity and empowerment through education and political action, is trying to get voter registration volunteers now and will continue to throughout the summer.
“Since we have more time during summer break, we can set up booths in Escondido, particularly targeting the Latino community because they don’t vote that much,” Club President Alberto Nunez said.
According to Nunez, volunteering is very important because it can give a person communication and teamwork experience.
“It is a great way to help and get to know your community as well as for networking,” Nunez said.
Zoos And Animal Shelter/Rescue
Zoos are a place that can use an extra hand or two to welcome guests, hand out flyers and help with other tasks over the summer, according to Palomar student and San Diego Zoo Safari Park employee Tiffany Theophim.
“Volunteering helps give you an idea of what it is you want to do,” Theophim said. “A lot of people who do volunteer work in areas that they are interested in or like, for instance I love animals so I don’t mind helping out at the zoo or the humane society.”
According to voices.yahoo.com, animal shelters and rescues are also a place where volunteers are needed to take care of homeless animals. It can be another great volunteer opportunity for animal lovers, however, the website does warn that if you are a sensitive type to be sure to sign up for a rescue or no-kill shelter because at the more traditional shelters, animals are put to sleep on a regular basis.