Organizations give teens ways to help others in community

For some, community service sounds like a punishment. For others, volunteering is a chance to give back to the community or build a necessary part of their resume. For students looking for service hours for National Honor Society or other extracurricular groups, figuring out where to volunteer can be a job in itself. The Dayton area has many organizations that can provide students – and adults – a chance to make a difference in the community.

Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity is a way for students to get involved in the Dayton/Kettering community. It’s a nonprofit Christian organization that builds houses for an affordable price. The goal of this organization is to reduce homelessness around the world. According to the Habitat for Humanity website, their ministry was founded “on the conviction that every man, woman and child should have a simple, decent place to live in dignity and safety.”

Habitat for Humanity has an open-door policy about who can volunteer with them, making it easy for students to get involved with the Kettering community. This means all are welcome who wish to help build these houses, regardless of religious affiliation. To volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, you should be 18, but Habitat for Humanity is also kid-friendly. This organization includes programs for youth. These programs are divided by age; there are opportunities for those ages 14 to 15 and ages 16 to 17. Those who are 14 or 15 are allowed to be on the construction site only during landscaping and painting days. Sixteen- and 17-years-olds are allowed to be on the construction site to help with such things as cleaning, organizing, sweeping, landscaping and painting. 

“Habitat for Humanity is a good organization, because it lets you be very hands-on with your volunteering versus writing a check or something,” said 2010 Fairmont High School graduate Alec Denker, who has volunteered many times for the organization. “It’s a gift that will last a long time.”

Habitat for Humanity’s current projects include the Kettering Build and the Riverside Build. The Kettering Build began in October and continues through February at 2730 Gaylord Ave. in Kettering. This is Habitat for Humanity’s second home in the city of Kettering, and the finished house will be five bedrooms. The Riverside Build began in November and continues through March at 3586 Lane Garden Ct. in Dayton. This build will be a four-bedroom house.

Habitat for Humanity’s homeownership selection does not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity or religion. Volunteers on these builds help in all the processes of home building or renovation, including painting, carpentry, siding, flooring and dry walling. As the group builds the house from the ground up, they always need volunteers for various tasks. Students who want to schedule a time to volunteer can do so by signing up online. Click HERE for more information.

St. Vincent de Paul

St. Vincent de Paul is an organization that helps impoverished and homeless people in the Dayton and Kettering community. This organization helps people by providing them with food, clothing, household items and emergency shelter. According to the official St. Vincent de Paul website, their mission is to help these people “with respect and compassion, motivated by Gospel values.” St. Vincent relies heavily on volunteers.

Fairmont senior Michele Post actively volunteers for St. Vincent de Paul with her youth group from church. “We mainly go to St. Vincent de Paul to serve breakfast,” she said. “I like helping people who are less fortunate than us. It makes you feel grateful, and the reaction you get from the people is amazing. You learn a lot when you volunteer.”

St. Vincent de Paul offers regular or one-time volunteering opportunities for individuals or groups of people. This organization needs volunteers to do receptionist and custodial work, serve meals, stock the pantry, provide clerical assistance, fold laundry, cook, grocery shop, stock the clothing room and sort various items. 

Students interested in volunteering, can click HERE.

We Care Arts

We Care Arts is a building of art classes designed to help adults who are physically or mentally disabled. We Care Arts also provides art classes for youth who have special needs. The program is based on the goal of “making possibilities through disabilities.”  According to We Care Arts’ website, their goal is to “promote the artist’s individuality, self esteem, community skills, ability to focus, life skills, responsibility, confidence and job skills.”

The We Care Arts Berkeley building, which is the closest one, is located at 3035 Wilmington Pike in Kettering. For the adults who are challenged, We Care Arts provides classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. These classes include clay/ceramic work, decorative painting, computer art, sewing, jewelry-making and fine arts.

Each week on Tuesdays, young adults and teens with disabilities and volunteers meet in the main studio for a drop-in class and do one art project while taking time to listen to music and have a snack.  These students have made flags, murals, jewelry, ceramic bowls and other pieces of art. Some projects also have seasonal themes as the holidays get closer. 

Art Café’s main volunteers come from Fairmont High School, with some from Alter High School as well as Centerville High School. All students have to do to volunteer is simply show up on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. and help the students with their projects and let them know that just because they are different, it doesn’t mean they don’t have an important role in life. 

“I love to help people, and I’ve developed a passion for helping people with disabilities,” said Erin Koehler, a Fairmont junior and active volunteer member at We Care Arts. “You can reach out to somebody in the simplest way. I do so by spending two hours of my week to help these children with disabilities.”

Click HERE if you’re interested in working first-hand with children with disabilities.