Filling in the Blanks with Melanie Kay-Wyatt: Volunteering: A feel-good experience

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Filling in the Blanks with Melanie Kay-Wyatt:  Volunteering: A feel-good experience
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By Melanie Kay-Wyatt, Ed.D

There’s no greater gift than that of our time, talents and resources. We are reminded of that this month as Alexandria City Public Schools celebrates National Volunteer Month, Public School Volunteer Week and Spring2ACTion, a day of giving.

Volunteers inspire those around them and help bring people together to problem solve and improve the community. They also serve as a powerful force for family and community engagement.

When community members become involved in their schools, more people have a better sense of the total education picture. Active participation within our school division lends itself to a better understanding and trust building as well as a commitment to lend even more support.

Volunteers can be a multifaceted resource in the classroom and throughout the school. In the classroom, volunteers provide extra support, allowing staff the opportunity to work with students who need special assistance. In addition, volunteers in our schools serve as positive role models for youth and help motivate students as they see firsthand how members of their community value education and support their local school. Studies indicate the presence of volunteers in the school community impacts students as they help contribute to improved social skills, positive attendance, grades and test scores, students graduating and finding a career path.

Volunteering truly serves as a way to positively impact the community in which we live and create a sense of unity and pride. Giving one’s time is a great way to share and showcase your strengths, meet new people and share ideas. By giving back to the community, you can also let your children see how volunteering makes a difference and how good it feels to help others and bring about change for the better.

By volunteering in your child’s school, you can make connections with other parents and get to know teachers and staff. It also offers the opportunity to share with your child school-related experiences; research has shown that schools with a strong volunteer base perform better and that children of a school volunteer realize better grades and test scores.

ACPS encourages and welcomes volunteers in our schools. Volunteers can get involved and make a difference by helping with a wide variety of activities that vary by school. To ensure the safety of our students, staff, and visitors, there are a few steps to complete before beginning your service that can be accessed on our ACPS Volunteer webpage.

Another way to support our schools and the Alexandria community is through Spring2ACTion, a 24-hour online event, hosted by the community foundation ACT for Alexandria. This event is our chance to celebrate a collective spirit of giving to support programs and organizations that provide equitable opportunities for our children and keep Alexandria the vibrant community it is. While Spring2ACTion is set for April 24 from midnight to 11:59 p.m., early giving began Wednesday and runs through April 23 at 11:59 p.m.

There is a reciprocal effect in giving back to the community in which we live. Volunteering provides an opportunity to make new friends, expand your network and boost social skills. It is a way to build strong ties to the community while learning more about it. That is in part why corporations encourage volunteer efforts among employees as when they give of their time, money and skills, they also help address issues facing our communities.

There are many reasons why everyone should consider volunteering in any way you are able. A benefit directly impacting the volunteer is that the social contact aspect of helping others can have a profound impact on the volunteer’s psychological well-being. Volunteering can provide focus in one’s life, be mentally stimulating and add more zest to living. It simply makes one feel good!

The writer is superintendent of Alexandria City Public Schools.

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