Editorial: Volunteer value

Volunteering is a valuable experience for both students and the agencies they serve.

There’s more than one way for young people to get some valuable work experience.

Local teens sometimes have a difficult time finding a summer job, but there’s almost always room for some energetic young volunteers.

The United Way Roger Hill Volunteer Center reports that its Summer of Service program paired 88 local student volunteers with 22 area nonprofits this year. The students completed almost 2,500 hours of service to the agencies over a seven-week period. They sorted donations at Salvation Army, cleaned cages at the Lawrence Humane Society and performed other needed duties.

The effort benefitted the agencies, but it also provided valuable experiences for the students. They met and worked with new people and learned how to follow instructions and complete their assigned tasks. They learned something about the agencies they worked for and perhaps some of the challenges faced by those agencies and the people they serve.

In the process, the students gained not only the gratitude of the agencies they served but also a sense of accomplishment. One team leader for the students also noted the value of developing self-confidence and leadership skills.

Community service is meaningful on its own, but colleges and universities also are putting greater emphasis on “service learning” experiences when students apply for admission and scholarships. A successful volunteer experience may also serve as a good reference for a student seeking a paying job later on.

The Summer of Service is just one of many volunteer opportunities for local young people throughout the year. Congratulations to the Roger Hill Volunteer Center and all its student volunteers for a job — or jobs — well done.