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SmartHealthToday: Summer is great time for teens to put spare time to good use — here are some ideas

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By Anya Rao
SmartHealthToday

Summer is the ideal time for teenagers to put their spare time to good use by volunteering in their community. Volunteering can be a character building experience. Plus, some schools require volunteer hours and it can be a valuable addition to a college or job application.

There are many opportunities to volunteer in the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area. Here’s a list of a few places to consider volunteering. It’s a good idea to contact each volunteer site specifically, as many of them require advanced registration or application.

Where to volunteer

St. Elizabeth Healthcare offers a variety of volunteer positions which can provide teens a glimpse into a potential future healthcare career.

“Teens who volunteer at St. Elizabeth have the unique opportunity to help their community and be exposed to the many people and departments that are involved in health care,” said Erin Pittman, St. Elizabeth’s lead volunteer coordinator.

“Many of our student volunteers come in with a specific medical interest and, usually, we are able to place them in that area or something similar so they can see what the “day-to-day” of what that career would be like. Other teen volunteers come in very uncertain about what health career they may want to pursue, if they want to pursue one at all, and we are able to give them an experience where they are interacting with different staff, guests and/or patients, helping them determine if health care is for them,” Pittman said.

Volunteering at St. Elizabeth also gives teens the opportunity to build confidence and improve their communication skills.

Although the summer program is already underway – applications are accepted each April – there are still some opportunities to volunteer this summer and during the school year. Interested teens should call (859) 301-2140 to learn about what summer opportunities remain and future chances to volunteer.

The Freestore Foodbank distributes 23 million meals annually through a network of 350 community partner agencies serving 20 counties in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. Volunteers are a key component to the Freestore Foodbank’s mission so there are lots of volunteer opportunities for a regular commitment or a one-time experience. Volunteers — including teens — pack Power Packs and Senior Boxes, sort food donations to be sent to community partners, provide customer service at the food pantry, plant and harvest crops at the farm, assist with special events throughout the year and provide talents and skills for dozens of other activities that help people when they are in crisis. Teens under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

Love nature and conservation? Teens who are at least 13 years old and have an interest in animals and nature can apply to volunteer at the zoo. Although the Cincinnati Zoo’s summer VolunTeen program is already underway for this year, you can plan ahead to apply for next summer’s program starting in December.

The Behringer-Crawford Museum in Covington uses teen volunteers to set up for events and help beautify the grounds and landscape surrounding the museum in the summer.

For a one-time volunteer opportunity, Dress for Success – which provides professional clothing to those in need – needs helpers to prepare invitations on July 18-19 for an upcoming event.

You can aid in cleaning up the Ohio River while also getting an education about the waterway through LL&W’s river cleanups this September. As an added bonus, you get to take a ride on a barge.

United Ministries provides assistance to families in need in Boone and Kenton counties. The nonprofit uses volunteers for various activities, including yard work and stocking the food pantry.

Welcome House of Northern Kentucky encourages volunteers of all ages to take on many different projects to aid the homeless.

The Brighton Center is a nonprofit that offers support to individuals and families in need and aims to help them to become self-sufficient. High schoolers are encouraged to volunteer.

SmartHealthToday is a service of St. Elizabeth Healthcare.

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