Volunteering: Making a Difference to a Stranger Can Help Your Family

An American family’s typical ‘get-together’ activities would include a game night, dinner, or even a trip to the lake or the beach. However, one such family activity that is generally overlooked is volunteering.

Volunteering as a family has its benefits. It helps the family work together towards a cause while strengthening family ties. It is also an excellent method of instilling the value of volunteering in young children.

An example of such family volunteer activities is the Montcalm Schools, a private family-referral residential treatment program for girls and boys that uses volunteering as a therapy tool. The school is based on a 90 plus year history with its parent company known as Starr Commonwealth, and works with over 5,000 children, families and professionals on an annual basis to enhance the lives of the less fortunate.

Dr. Jim Longhurst, licensed psychologist for Montcalm Schools says that a vital part of the treatment at the organization is volunteering. “Montcalm is trying to rekindle that part of ourselves that is more or less dormant in the kids we serve. Volunteering as part of their therapeutic treatment develops a compassion for others and teaches them to be more empathic. Volunteering and making a difference in the lives of others, helps children who are obsessed with their own shortcomings and life struggles build self-esteem. The magnitude of their perceived deficits decreases and their self-esteem increases because they see someone appreciative of their ability and desire to help.”

The same volunteerism principles the Montcalm School uses for its therapy works well with any family. Volunteering together brings about that essential spirit of cooperation and teaches children important practical life skills.