Note: This VolunteerMatch Young Ambassador Series post is written by Abelard Lormond. The Ambassador series blogs offer practical insights into causes and volunteer opportunities championed by VolunteerMatch or members of our partner network, to provide personal insight and shine a light on the unique work of our nonprofit partners.
In January, we celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on the third Monday of the month, as we do every year to show our love, respect, and honor for Dr. King and his legacy. One effective way that some decide to go about displaying their appreciation is through the works of different volunteer organizations that follow the teachings of MLK himself.
I have recently taken the time to look into a variety of non-profit causes that cover different topics related to Dr. King’s dogma. During my research, I managed to find three youth-oriented campaigns that especially appealed to me, and I hope that they appeal to you as well.
Host a Diverse Virtual Book Club
Hosting a diverse virtual book club struck me as very interesting and creative. It also sounds so intriguing to me because I enjoy reading and writing very much, and am an author myself. But this cause stands out for those who like to read and those who are not as interested in reading, because this is a group where a variety of different people congregate (virtually, due to COVID). Distanced but together, they read books that are written by Black, LGBTQ+, and disabled authors. Volunteers converse with a group for about 2 or 3 hours and earn some guaranteed volunteer credit. Another reward is a $1000 scholarship that participants have the chance to win. This cause is most definitely worth joining!
Create a Woman Protagonist
For those of you who like to be creative and make good use of your imagination, this one's for you! I am also speaking to myself here, because as I previously mentioned, I enjoy reading and writing. As an author, I LOVE to create my own characters. The problem, however, is that many of the main characters that are being created today are male characters. That is the reason why this second volunteer cause from DoSomething.org was created. On their website, they let us know just how recessive the amount of female characters are. They say that “only 30.8% of speaking characters in films from 2007-2012 are women.”
Let’s act on this and change those statistics! This cause encourages us all to take the time to use our imaginations and create a protagonist that is a woman. Design her looks from her hair to her clothes and shoes. Come up with her personality and the morals that she lives by. Who are her allies and her enemies? Take advantage of the opportunity to get creative while also shedding light on the issue at hand. As well as the previously mentioned cause, this one also guarantees volunteer credit in the end. Let’s do it!
Conversing With Older Adults
I think it’s safe to say that none of us were too fond of being abruptly thrown into quarantine. While it’s true that this is probably the best time to start something productive, such as participating in any of these causes, physical distancing and remaining indoors has created feelings of social isolation amongst many of us, including older adults. I personally know how much seniors appreciate one another’s association and company, from my own past experience working at a senior center. There is no reason why COVID should hinder that association.
This non-profit cause encourages us to have a conversation with our elders via zoom. Encourage them to tell you their stories -- be they life stories, experiences from quarantine, or something else. Not only will you be helping these older ones with their feelings of isolation, but you may even be helping yourself to feel less distanced from others. Just like the other two causes, this one also offers volunteer credit and just like the virtual book club, it offers the chance to win a $1000 scholarship.
When Do You Wanna Act?
The deadline for these causes is the end of February, and VolunteerMatch and DoSomething have a goal to help reach 25,000 hours of volunteering among young people during this time. I encourage you to get out there (virtually!) and volunteer. Take part in a cause to bring awareness to the lack of African-American, LGBTQ+, and disabled authors out there. Help shed some light on, and change for the better, the small percentage of women protagonists in a range of media. Share a few moments of your time to talk to older people and get to know and learn from them, and they from you. These are just three of the many nonprofit causes to participate in to get 2021 off to a stronger social start.
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