By Tyler Kwon
Towards the end of every school year, the sweet smell of summertime rolls around, bringing with it visions of beach days with friends, visits to local museums and concerts, and adventure-filled interstate road trips. Coupled with the growing sense that school is a roach-infested prison, the building anticipation of school-free fun consistently has us telling ourselves, “This will be the best summer ever!”
But after the glitter fades, the lethargy-inducing effects of 100 degree heat set in, we tend to make another, more sobering declaration: “I have done absolutely nothing with my summer.”
In order to avoid the “coulda, shoulda, woulda” of another break woefully wasted, students can embark on a summer that is not only exciting, but also meaningful and productive by volunteering.
The San Fernando Valley is home to many organizations in need of volunteers willing to donate their time for the sake of meaningful causes. A quick search on sites like volunteermatch.org will reveal a wide variety of opportunities to volunteer, like being a reading tutor at the San Fernando Library or hosting an international exchange student.
The school’s College and Career Office also sends out a weekly newsletter containing information regarding opportunities for students to volunteer, along with some internship and employment listings.
Last summer, senior Miranda Bumrung donated her time to Discovery Cube LA, a children’s museum in Sylmar featuring interactive science exhibits.
“It was just a fun and rewarding time getting to know the little kids there, and knowing that I was making learning science more fun for them. But it was also good that I woke up early every morning, and so I felt productive every day,” Bumrung said.
According to AmeriCorps, a government-funded program dedicated to sponsoring community service, volunteering can benefit volunteers and their communities by fostering the formation of new relationships and creating a sense of pride in one’s work and local area.
Volunteering can bring positive impacts to people’s health, too. A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found that volunteers spent 38% fewer nights in the hospital than non-volunteers, likely due to the increased physical activity and emotionally uplifting effects brought on by public service.
As many high school students likely know, the regret of yet another summer vacation wasted can be a disappointing and saddening feeling. By spending the summer volunteering, they can take advantage of their time to engage in accessible, meaningful, and potentially transformative experiences, however.
“There were times that I had to turn down plans with friends because of my obligations at the pet shelter. But, volunteering there let me support a cause I care about, and made me feel good about myself and my actions too,” senior Valeria Hernandez, who volunteered for Best Friends Animal Shelter last summer, said.