I can't say I'll never be a mom, but it isn't on in my five-year plan. And I honestly don't have a strongly formed opinion around how my husband and I will tackle that decision in the end. But I do have a strongly held belief that even though I may not be a mom it is part of my job as a human to make this world a better place for the next generation.
That is why every other Friday I trudge down to the Tenderloin and hang out with two dozen partially-grown ladies. In the couple months I've been volunteering we've all gotten to know each other better. In addition to learning all of their names I am starting to understand what gets them excited. They love to draw and to create. And more than anything they want a spot where someone really sees each of them.
Girl Scouts is a safe place for them to share who they are and what they think. Each week under the leadership of one very seasoned leader Nancy we create a space we these girls can feel empowered. It might come in the form of leading the pledge of allegiance or creating a piece of art to take home (you can see our Earth Day art project in the photo).
I also know this is time well spent because nearly 20 years ago I learned most of the fundamental camping skills I still use today from a set of strong women who were my Girl Scout leaders. It just feels like even though it was a huge hassle to find a spot to volunteer that I am giving someone a gift with real impact. We'll be exposing some of these kiddos to nature for the first time. And real or imagined we'll be asking them to overcome obstacles, which should build their confidence. I still feel pride in my pin from the 80's and a new sense of accomplishment earning one for being a leader in 2016.
And to be honest hanging out with Troop 62084 might be just as awesome and impactful for me as it is for the girls. That's why I wanted to remind all those other non-parents looking to give back - remember many of these organizations have no idea how to engage with you. Thier systems are set-up to help parents help. Cut them a little slack. And here are a few steps I followed to help get connected with the right folks and create memories for me and a whole bunch of awesome kiddos.
How to Volunteer with Kids as a Non-Parent
- Figure out what kind of impact you want to have
- Go online and look for the organization's contact info
- Reach out and ask for the volunteer coordinator
- Ask friends and family who might work with the organization how they give time
- Share what type of help you can give - time, mentorship, business skill
- Ask about their specific needs and how you can plug an immediate hole
- Determine if they have specific times when they onboard new volunteers
- Follow up again if you haven't heard back until you've found a spot to help
Also, don't forget the hard messy complicated confusing parts of life can be the most rewarding!