Intergenerational volunteering is a necessary component of building strong community foundations. Volunteering together allows for the blend of children’s enthusiasm, teenagers innovation, and adults experience. It demonstrates that many issues are relevant across generations and mitigates generational divides as both sets of ages are exposed to and learn from different perspectives regarding community plights. In fact, a study in Baltimore found that when older adults volunteer with elementary aged students they feel more generative, the feeling of concern for and desire to impact future generations, and energized. Furthermore, developing intergenerational cohesive values through consistent and meaningful connections amounts to a tolerant and strong community identity and proves that there is no such thing as a minimum age or “best when used by” date when it comes to volunteering.
When youth volunteer with their families at a young age, it significantly increases their civic engagement through adolescence and into adulthood as they cement values of altruism and giving back. Between sports, school, and jobs, it can be difficult to find time to come together as a family; prioritizing family connections through volunteering is a perfect time to spend time together while creating change in the community. Moreover, working together as a team when volunteering can also translate into better teamwork at home and put family squabbles in perspective, thus improving family dynamics. Volunteering together and facing tough community issues facilitates a dialogue between family members that encourages both kids and adults alike to examine their role in the community, what they may take for granted, and how they can best help others.
Get Connected, United Way’s free online volunteer hub, allows you to filter for local family-friendly volunteer opportunities. Head on over to volunteer.unitedwaynow.org to sign up!