by Francesca M. ’18
At the time of writing, it is late September, which means it is the season of summer service hours being rejected. Nothing is more frustrating than working your butt off in your free time, and being told that unfortunately, this work you did doesn’t count towards your Lakeside service hours. We receive school-wide emails, take time on the freshman retreat, and spend class meetings going over how to get our eighty service hours by graduation time, and still, somehow, things are lost along the way. I met with Ms. Zinda to clear up some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding service at Lakeside, so if you want to get those hours approved, read on.
Question 1: What are the top three things to remember when getting your service hours?
- FIND YOUR PASSION!! There are thousands of organizations out there and at least ONE of them is helping a community of need.
- Vet the organization BEFORE you start. We need to find the right one before you start volunteering so that when you submit your hours and journal entry, you are confident your time will be approved. Once you’ve looked at the criteria on the Dashboard of your x2VOL, if you are at all unsure, come see me! I get the best ideas from conversations with students on new organizations. You are the researchers, you get to choose, and I get to learn and approve!
- DON’T WAIT UNTIL MAY OF YOUR JUNIOR YEAR TO START. Unless your age is a barrier. This is a stressful time and we don’t need to add more.
Question 2: What is something you wish more students did during the process of getting and submitting service hours?
Use their peers that have been successful. Usually these are students that have taken time to clarify what they are doing and most importantly why they are doing it. They understand that we are not looking for hours, we are looking for a commitment to addressing an social justice issue… the lack of great education options, the absence of healthy food in a food desert, the abuse of people, places and/or animals. We all have something to learn and to give. The successful student understands this and actively seeks out a place to do both, over a period of time, without thought of reciprocity.
With this last item in mind, I (and your classmates!) have made a short list of some organizations that those of you just starting this process might want to check out.
For people interested in working with other people, you might try volunteering with MDA Camp, where you could help kids with muscular dystrophy have a normal summer camp experience. There’s LEEP, a Lakeside-run summer program, or if you’re interested in more scholastic service, the Pacific Science Center Educators in Training. Teen Link is a great organization by and for teens, or organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, Bloodworks, Seattle Music Partners, Angeline’s Kitchen, and Books for Prisoners.
If working with other people isn’t something you’re super excited about, you could always try the Washington Trails Association for some active outdoor service, or Seattle Humane Society or Zoocorps if you like animals better than people.
Hopefully, one of these organizations strikes a chord with you, or, if not, at least gives you an idea of what you might want to explore on your own. If you are going to try a different organization, make sure you get it approved beforehand! There are some really common mistakes people often make when trying to get their hours approved. Here are some examples of organizations that do not work.
Faith-based service work can be tricky. If your church hands out meals to homeless people and you help with that, go forth and conquer – that works perfectly with the Lakeside mission. If your church is handing out meals to its own parishioners, that, unfortunately, does not work.
You cannot be paid for your work, or compensated in any way. Some Seattle organizations pay you for volunteering with a program like the Humane Society. The Humane Society may not be paying you, but as you are being paid for your work, this will not count towards your service hours.
The service you’re volunteering for must be free, or at the very least, provide significant financial aid/scholarships. It’s great if you volunteer to help out with a program that you love and are passionate about, but if participants have to pay to experience that program, your work, while unpaid, does not count as Lakeside service learning.