Places to earn student service learning hours serve the community well

Young-A Kim
staff writer

Giving back to the community through service is essential for personal growth, experience and college applications. Although summer volunteer opportunities have already filled, there are still places to volunteer and give back.

One of the options to volunteer over the summer includes being an assistant for teachers. The summer is a time to reconnect with former middle school and elementary school teachers. Students can help teachers clean rooms, put up decorations and organize new material for the next year. “I visited my middle school teacher last summer and it was fun helping her with organizing papers,” sophomore Joseph Yi said.

If students are interested in the outdoors and nature, there are volunteer opportunities available from Montgomery Parks. Some activities include park and stream cleanups, invasive weed removal and trail work. All the events can be completed either alone, with a friend or in large groups. The parks offer the opportunity to give back to the community by making the world a greener place. All of the volunteer information is located on the Montgomery Parks website. “I love working in the parks. I especially like to help out on the trail work days because it’s nice to hang out in nature and just soak in the sun,” freshman Amanda Henmueller said.

At nursing homes, senior residents often need assistance with daily activities and seek someone to talk to. Volunteers fill a need for the residents and can brighten the day of seniors. Especially in the summer, there are different events that the nursing homes host such as outdoor activities, parties and instructional classes that volunteers can assist in. Some of the nursing homes that students around Rockville most actively volunteer at include The Village at Rockville and Rockville Nursing Home. “I love working at the Village. It allows me to experience new activities that I’ve never tried before with the residents,” sophomore Nastaran Moghimi said.

Thousands of dogs and cats end up homeless in the United States alone. By volunteering with foundations such as the Lost Dog and Cat Foundation, volunteers are given the opportunity to potentially find an owner for orphan puppies and cats. The volunteering events take place on most Saturdays at various Petco locations, the closest being at Rockville Pike. In order to volunteer at the adoption events, students should contact the Lost Dog and Cat Foundation. Volunteers are typically assigned to walk dogs and introduce them to people interested in adoption. “I love volunteering with the foundation because it gives me a great opportunity to work with dogs and help them find their homes. The dogs are always a ton of fun to work with, and it’s really great when they get adopted,” junior Joel Shapiro said.

The issue with volunteering at summer camps is that the volunteer work may not qualify as SSL hours. The camp organization must be pre approved, more specifically it must be a non profit opportunity. To know if volunteer opportunities are SSL approved, “students can go on the Montgomery County SSL Website to go and check for the organization’s name or ask me before school ends,” the SSL coordinator Lesley Stroot said.

Before this year, summer SSL hours were due on the last Friday in September. However starting this year, SSL hours are technically not due until the end of the year. Even though the policy changed, “students should still turn in hours as soon as they finish. The more they wait around at home, they will forget about them,” Stroot said.

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