Jones County 4-H Offers Volunteer Opportunities

— Written By Sarah Delap

“Every child has the potential to be a true leader. However, kids today say they are missing experiences that grow the life skills they need – skills like confidence, responsibility, independence and compassion. In 4-H, we believe in the power of young people, and want to provide them with opportunities needed to grow the skills they need to lead. We want to grow more True Leaders.”

One of the ways that Jones County 4-H “Grows True Leaders” is through volunteering. 4-H does not have a specific volunteer focus. Youth are able to share their skills, knowledge, and time, at homeless shelters, soup kitchens, nursing homes, after school centers, and animal shelters. Youth can also assist with yard work, baking cookies for law enforcement, or building a house. Volunteering is not always about being in the trenches. For some youth it is intimidating to be around people they do not know, so they may choose to assist with a food drive, pack thinking of you boxes for foster children, or create thank you notes for military families.

All of the above experiences have one thing in common, helping those in need. For many an obvious reason why youth should volunteer, but this is not always their driving force. Helping those in need, provide youth and families an opportunity to give back to something that is important to them.

Sharing your time (an invaluable asset) with someone can reap benefits not just for the recipient, but also for the person volunteering. Studies have found that volunteering is great for mental and physical health; it increases self confidence and happiness. It also teaches social and networking skills needed as an adult, by building future contact list and introducing individuals who can write future letters of recommendation. Volunteering also exposes youth to new experiences and other perspectives on life. These new experiences and perspectives may lead to new passions and avenues on how to pursue them in the future.

Lastly, many youth are able to build their resume through volunteering. It shows employers or scholarship donors that you are ambitious, that you care about your community, and that you can put others before self.

Jones County 4-H is currently offering volunteer opportunities with other youth, the elderly, and families in and around Jones County. On June 13-14, Jones County 4-H will host a youth volunteer training for youth interested in assisting with the Summer Adventures Program through 4-H. During the two-day training, youth will learn about leadership, learning styles, how to deal with difficult children, and practice activities that will take place during the summer program. Youth will then choose what days fit their schedule during the summer months. Youth must be at least 14 years of age to volunteer.

Jones County 4-H will also visit Brookstone Living Center located in Pollocksville this summer. 4-Her’s have hosted a Mardis Gras party and made flowers with residents already in 2016. On June 20 and July 21 youth will travel to Brookstone to complete crafts with residents in their rooms and the activity room. During this time, youth will engage residents in conversation and share their time with someone who might night normally receive visitors. Youth volunteers must be at least 5 years old to participate.

Jones County 4-H is also volunteering with St. Andrews Lutheran Church in New Bern on August 27. St. Andrews Lutheran Church provides a free meal to anyone in Craven and the surrounding counties every Saturday night. They average 100 individuals taking advantage of this service. Youth and adult volunteers will assist with food preparation, meal serve, and cleanup. Volunteers will also have the opportunity to share stories over dinner. Youth must be at least 12 years old to attend and families are encouraged to participate. If you are unable to attend this event and would like to assist, Jones County 4-H will be providing all the desserts.

Jones County 4-H will also be hosting a food drive this summer. All items will be used to assist seniors in Jones County. We will be accepting canned fruit, meat, and vegetables, noodles, sauces, coffee, juice, cereals, etc. The drop off spot will be the Jones County Extension Center, at 367-A NC Hwy 58 South in Trenton. We will also be set up at local stores throughout the summer.

If you are interested in volunteering with Jones County 4-H in any of the ways, please contact Sarah Delap, Jones County 4-H Youth Development Agent, at 252-448-9621, Sarah_Delap@ncsu.edu, or stop by the Jones County Extension Center. If you have any suggestions for future volunteering please let us know. Our goal is to “Grow True Leaders” in Jones County.