Volunteer Opportunity for Busy Penn Students

A quote that’s resonated with me since my days of volunteering during high school is,“Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth.” This was a time when I wasn’t working full time or commuting almost 2 hours a day. It was easy to candy stripe at my local hospital and ship out care packages to soldiers at my church when I had a less stressful schedule.
Though many of us have the desire to volunteer, we do not all have schedules that allow us to spend a few hours at a soup kitchen or to work at a construction site on Saturdays with Habitat for Humanity. Fortunately, there is another way for the civically motivated individual on the go to get involved!
Last year I volunteered with an online mentoring program, In2Books, which matches adult volunteers with elementary school children to discuss books assigned by their classroom teachers. The volunteer’s job is to foster a thoughtful discussion about the books through email in hopes of improving students’ critical thinking skills, writing abilities, and literacy. Throughout the school year volunteers are expected to exchange at least 2 letters per assigned book, so about 10-12 letters, more if you have time.
In2Books is flexible because you can read your book (typically less than 100 pages) on the train or at lunch and then email your pen pal at your leisure. There are email prompts if you’re struggling with topics and also a list of key vocabulary words from the book to incorporate in your email.
For busy Penn students juggling sports practice, double majors, hours in the lab, or work study positions, finding an electronic volunteer position can be a great option. Though volunteering online doesn’t provide the same opportunity to make immediate transformations or connections, like weeding a community garden or spending time at the Ronald McDonald house, my In2Books experience allowed me to stir the curiosity of my pen pal and share my enthusiasm about reading and writing with a captive audience.
As Martin Luther King said, “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve!” With the internet possibilities are endless, so just because you don’t have traditional hours to physically show up with someone, you can definitely find a gratifying volunteer opportunity online!

Author: Lindsay

Lindsay Mapes is the the Pre-Grad, Pre-Law, Pre-Health team Administrative Assistant in Career Services.