Required Volunteer Hours May Improve Communities, Individuals, Enforces Good Behavior

It’s been a while since high school, what with the gap year and the transfer, but I still remember how much of a hassle it was to keep track of the paperwork for the volunteering hours needed to graduate.

If I had to guess, I would say that I only recorded and submitted, at most, two-thirds of my actual volunteering hours. But all that the paperwork didn’t mean that I resented the volunteer jobs. On the contrary, I still to this day have good memories from volunteering, and I am glad I was given a tangible reason why I should slot volunteer events into my busy schedule.

Many people say that volunteering is as much about helping yourself emotionally as it is helping others physically. You learn new things about yourself and the good you are capable of and, yes, get the “warm fuzzies.” It is a cliché, but it’s no less true for it.

My high school required a couple dozen hours of community service; while it would take a long search to figure out which other high schools in the area had similar requirements, it is a safe assumption that at least some other high schools in the WCC orbit have similar policies.

So why are we having this discussion?  On April 4, the Alpha Beta Gamma Business Honors Society held its first Volunteer Fair in the Student Center. This could have been an event on the scale of the orientation fair, and maybe will be in a few years with enough support. But, for now, it was confined to the standard event room, with a respectable number of students dropping in. But imagine how big it could be if there was a requirement to volunteer.

Now, there are many people who would argue that community service needs to be optional because teenagers and young adults need to learn the value of helping without material gains, and some worry that requiring it even teaches the opposite lesson.

But sometimes people need a little push, and once there, if it is a good experience, human behavior will make them want to come back. The representatives of the various groups at the Volunteer Fair agreed.

“Once they’re a part of the program, they want to volunteer more in the future,” said Hailey Callanan a representative for Give More HUGS, an organization that runs book drives for underfunded elementary schools.

Moreover, the desire to have all community service be voluntary is noble, but currently, Westchester County has a lot of problems that need more boots on the ground and, as was well put by the Rotary Club’s Vickie Winkelman: “A volunteer is a volunteer, no matter what the reason is.”

Selflessness and public service is a learned trait for most, something created by nurture, not nature. That said, if any are still not convinced, think of it as real-world job training for certain majors.

“If you’re [going to be] working with people, definitely. It gives you exposure to today’s issues,” said the College Steps Workforce Coordinator, Carrie Buster.

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