It is safe to assume that most of us have had a hard year. The realities of living through a global pandemic, shelter in place orders, virtual schooling, and the biggest fight for racial justice in recent memory has kept us all on edge. Whether you are feeling exhausted, inspired, anxious, or hopeful (or all four – I know I am!), one thing remains true: there is power and comfort in spending time in service of others. The drive to be an active citizen and generous community member is stronger than ever, and we at Generation SERVE have seen this in the unwavering commitment our families have shown through the last seven months.
Austin Families Give Back (At Home!) will combine the fun, hands-on, age appropriate activities with virtual events on Saturday, November 21st. Families will order supply kits from Generation SERVE and can pick them up the week prior to the event.
You can learn more about this event here.
- Charli Krause, Program Director
Over the summer months of June, July, and August, Generation SERVE held its 2nd annual Summer Volunteer-A-Thon in Austin and its first Summer Volunteer-A-Thon in Houston. We had over 150 families sign up expressing interest and had many families complete the challenge of volunteering for 10 hours or more over the summer!
We’re so proud of the families who participated, especially with most activities being completed from home or virtually this year. Please take a moment and read a few stories from some of the families who participated!
Hear from LauraLee Daigle’s family below.
Hear from Rachel Reedy’s family below.
“Our favorite service project we did this summer was decorating and filling sack lunches for Kids’ Meals. I had only planned to decorate the bags but when the kids asked if we could fill them with food, I jumped on the opportunity to engage them further into the project. My kids got creative in decorating the paper lunch bags and were really into packing the lunches and making sure every bag had the right items. During the packing process we were having a nice conversation about where the lunch bags go and why the kids need them and I thought, ‘Wow they are really understanding this project.’”
“I hope we can volunteer in person with Generation SERVE soon, but I also hope they continue offering some virtual options. I love how Generation SERVE gave my family some guidance in how we can help our community during this tumultuous time.”
Hear from Liz Shoss’s family below.
“Alexis and Benjamin started volunteering at Generation SERVE this summer,” said Liz Shoss. “Their goal was to complete 10 hours of volunteer work for the Volunteer-A-Thon. Alexis decided to make cards for SEARCH and read books then wrote book reviews for an organization that wants to empower youth through literacy. The experience was great. She felt so good about helping and was glad she could combine her interests - reading and creating - with doing a mitzvah (good deed). Benjamin bundled diapers for BEARS, put together meals for Kids’ Meals, and made masks and snack packs for SEARCH. Benjamin was glad to help especially during this difficult pandemic when so many need help.”
“Our family made a goal to volunteer once a month together a year ago,” she said. “We were volunteering at Kids’ Meals, Undies for Everyone, Houston Food Bank and Books Between Kids. Once the pandemic hit, we had to get creative. Luckily Generation SERVE had at-home projects that we could all do together and individually. We are so thankful to have Generation SERVE guide and assist us in our volunteer work.”
Hear from Martha Garcia’s family below.
“Volunteering is a great way to reuse, reduce and recycle,” said Julia. “It can be taking apart old cardboard boxes and styrofoam all the way to turning an old T-shirt into reusable shopping bag for people who maybe can’t get their own. We were able to give away stuff that might have not been that useful to us, to people who actually might need it. We got the gift of giving out of these projects. Volunteering to me is a way of supporting those who can’t support themselves. I am a very empathetic person so I feel for others and feel like it’s my duty to help.”
“I have volunteered since I was a teenager, so showing my kids the importance of raising up the community through volunteerism is powerful and energy giving,” said Martha. “I love doing this with them. When I was in my 20s, I worked in different non-profits where I was the “Volunteer Manager”. It was always a struggle because we could never accept families as volunteers for the work that we needed. It’s so refreshing to participate with Generation Serve because they provide wonderful opportunities to children and parents to volunteer together.”
by Mahir and Zenith
Generation SERVE Summer Residents
A year of volunteering has gone by since my start in the organization. I wanted to offer my services to the organization that had done so much to better our community. So that summer, I enrolled into the Youth Leadership Program. The program did so much more than train me to lead volunteer activities. It showed me the capabilities I had as a 15-year-old teenager to help causes I believed in. Furthermore, it gave me a chance to demonstrate those capabilities. The rest of the teens and I in the program were able to raise around $3,500 worth of school supplies—by organizing a raffle and simply asking for donations—for families experiencing a rough time. The kids who received these supplies now had a better chance to better their education, so they could better the lives of their families. This right here was a crucial lesson I learned from Generation SERVE. Every dollar donated is invested to give someone a chance at a more joyful life. The amazing thing though was that a group of teenagers had the ability to invest that money in the futures of hundreds of school kids.
Now as Summer Resident, I get to be a part of one of many gears that help this wonderful organization run. I get to help work on the material to train the teens and write this very blog post to y’all. As I’ll be attending the University of Texas at Austin this fall, I hope to continue being a part of this organization that has not only given to the community so much, but also nurtured me into a community-minded leader.
Generation SERVE has been important to me for one reason: the people. Volunteering enables me to have an impact on whoever I meet wherever I go. Before Generation SERVE, I was unsure of everything. I couldn’t even begin to imagine my future, let alone think about my career and networking. I was scared and terrified of what my future could entail. The only thing I was sure of was that I wanted to make a difference. It wasn’t until I met a current lead at Generation SERVE who encouraged me to apply for the Youth Leadership Program. The rest, as you can already tell, is history. Now, I am a leader in my own community and have an opportunity to expand myself. I have been able to learn and adapt in a safe environment while still growing, and meeting with other people and organizations.
In the upcoming school year, I will be attending the University of Texas at Austin, studying Management Information Systems at the McCombs School of Business. Since I will still be in town, I know my ties and connection to Generation SERVE will only get stronger as I continue to utilize and grow upon the skills I have learned in my time here.
by Krupali Kumar
Generation SERVE Teen Leader
Overall I was very excited about becoming a Teen Lead, but I was also extremely nervous about some aspects of the program. One thing I was anxious about was the interview stage of the application process. This was a face-to-face interaction and my ability to present myself well in the interview determined whether or not I would get accepted into the program. Ultimately, with a lot of preparation and practice, I was able to convey my passion for volunteering and social advocacy during my interview and I was accepted into the Teen Leadership Program.
Once I got into the program, I was nervous about leading my first volunteer activity. Even with all of the training I received during the summer program, I still wanted to make sure everything would run smoothly. So, I looked through all my notes about what to do as a Teen Lead, while also reviewing the techniques for engaging with family volunteers. The feelings of nervousness, whether it was during the interview stage or when I was about to lead my first activity, all expressed my passion and care for volunteering and helping other people!
I have now been volunteering with Generation SERVE for around two years and I have gained a lot through my experiences as a Teen Lead. I have been exposed to multiple nonprofit organizations, which has allowed me to gain experience in volunteering with different types of people and helping with a multitude of issues. This has given me a better idea overall of the issues that I want to strongly advocate for in the future.
Generation SERVE has significantly improved my communication skills. I have had to frequently interact with parents, kids, and other Teen Leads, which has helped me become better at developing my interpersonal skills. Being able to lead volunteer activities without supervision and take on the responsibility of making sure these activities run smoothly has allowed me to take on the role of becoming a reliable, responsible, and influential leader in my community.
By: Jeff Hobbs, 2020 Generation SERVE Board President
Interested in helping Generation SERVE make our mission a movement?
Check out our new multi-year giving society, SERVE Society, which is focused on moving the needle around impact, inclusion and expansion! Members pledge a minimum of $250 annually over three years. Learn more about this giving opportunity and see who has already pledged their support here.
By: Mary K. Gershon, Generation SERVE Board Member
By: Generation SERVE Summer Volunteer-a-Thon Participants
Thank you Shearman & Sterling, our exclusive Summer Volunteer-a-Thon sponsor, for making this summer-long celebration possible!
By: Sebastian Lopez, Generation SERVE Teen Leader
By: Generation SERVE Staff
In celebration of our 10th birthday, please consider a donation of $10 to launch us into the next decade of service! Your gift will help us bring the youth volunteerism movement to even more kids and families. #10for10
The Miura Group is generously matching up to $2,500 in donations, so your gift goes twice as far!
By: Generation SERVE Staff