This is the time of year that we get so tired of hearing about giving back to the community it makes us want to hurl. Hopefully this won’t be one of those times. Instead of talking about charity, let’s reframe the conversation.

How about becoming active participants in our community? We spend so much of our time and energy fighting for accessibility in our daily lives it’s exhausting! Getting involved in community that supports you may be the last thing on your list. But let’s say for a minute it isn’t. What’s the benefit of volunteering your time?

Volunteering is an easy resume builder and that means employment skills! Do you feel like the place you’re volunteering at hasn’t been using you to your fullest potential? Tell them that, get more experience, and start padding that portfolio for future employment.

Did you know that participating in AmeriCorps will not effect your social security? It’s true! AmeriCorps is a nation-wide program that provides “AmeriCorps members to meet the vital needs of the country through intensive service.” (You can find more information on local AmeriCorps programs at the Kansas Volunteer Commission website at www.kanserve.org). Participating in AmeriCorps not only puts money in your pocket, but it looks great on a resume and broadens your network of colleagues and friends.

AmeriCorps isn’t the only way to volunteer, of course. Maybe you’re not able to make that kind of commitment. What about smaller volunteer opportunities? Think of the agencies and organizations that have helped you in your life. What better way to show your appreciation than donating your time so that others may benefit from the same services you did. Did your local Center for Independent Living help you build a ramp to your house? Did your children meet new friends through their after-school program? Or maybe a domestic violence shelter helped a friend get back on their feet again.

There are countless ways of figuring out where to best use your skills and start becoming an active participant in your community. Not sure where to start? Worried about accessibility and accommodations as a volunteer? Never fear! The Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy’s Ability to Serve program is here to help you start making those connections and solving those problems. Just give me, Rachel, a call at 785-215-6655 or developmentcoordinator@kyea.org and we will get you on your way to making a difference in your community.


**This is a guest post from Rachel Gadd-Nelson, Development Coordinator with Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy