Volunteering Pays: My Favorite Oxymoron

When I tell other non-profit organizations that Families of Autistic Children in Tidewater (F.A.C.T.) attracts more than 250 student volunteers each year they are envious and they should be.  I could not be more proud of our volunteers. Some enter our programs innately able to engage and mentor our campers with autism.  Others need more training and guidance.  But in the end, they all learn so much about autism and the satisfaction that comes from serving others. They gain empathy and leadership skills. They become advocates for individuals with disabilities. Hopefully they go out into the world and share the point of view they developed while volunteering for F.A.C.T.

Of course I’m not so naïve as to believe all this volunteerism is strictly philanthropic.  First of all our programs are fun and interesting.  Because we are community focused, our social programs and camps involve lots of outings to places like the Virginia Aquarium, Laser Quest, and Ocean Breeze water park.  Volunteers can earn community service hours and an awesome recommendation for college or job applications.

My timing for this blog is not coincidental.  March is typically the time of year when parents and children begin planning their summer activities and schedules.  When I was a kid, the sum total of that plan was to be outdoors from dawn to dusk. Today, kids are involved in so many activities that careful advanced planning is necessary.  So for all my would-be student volunteers, let me officially announce that applications will be available on this site on May 1st and they will only be available for 2 weeks.  Camp will be in session from July 7 through August 15.

Each year camp receives more than 300 applications for only 200 positions, so not everyone will be able to participate in camp.  However there are many other volunteer opportunities and I’m sometimes disappointed at how few come forward to fill those year round programs.  Teen night, tween time, bowling league, and bike camp all need student volunteers so please consider taking part in one of these programs.