Social workers are the voice of the unrepresented among the masses. They help people confront their demons and teach them how to withstand adversity. They advocate for at-risk populations and work tirelessly for social justice. Furthermore, they dedicate their lives to serving those who need it most.
But, it is a challenging job. Social workers face humans at worst every day, which can be detrimental to their health. Additionally, they are overworked, underpaid, and underpaid despite doing vital work. So, most social workers end up devoting so much time and energy to the vulnerable that they forget to care for themselves. It is why burnout and stress are both rampant in people who work in this field.
According to a study, 75% of all social workers experience burnout at some point in life.
If you are a social work major, then you know all of this already. Indeed, you might have already weighed the pros and cons of this job. Or you might have already undergone training to manage the incredible stress of social work. You must do some community service to get an inkling of the everyday challenges in your profession. Indeed, some bachelor of social work online degree programs need relevant work experience for a qualifying degree.
If you are looking for inspiration for a community service idea, then look no further. Keep in mind that as a volunteer, you will only be allowed to do limited work. And most of the work you find will be with organizations and agencies after you go through a screening process. So, get ready to wow them at the in-person interview.
Now that we have that out of the way, here is our list of four community service ideas for social work majors you can use as motivation:
- Help the Elderly:
Most of the elderly lead an alienating lifestyle. With limited mobility and chronic health issues, doing everything on their own might be challenging. You can either help senior citizens by volunteering at nursing homes or help the elderly in your neighborhood.
Volunteering at a nursing home or a senior living community can improve the lives of the residents. Interesting fact is that the most people in nursing centers are lonely, and they will be glad of your company. You can visit them to have a conversation or take them for outdoor walks. Or you can help nurses to take care of them by giving them manicures and brushing their hair. Regardless of what you do, your presence will provide them much needed support and encouragement.
You can also help an elderly neighbor with their daily chores. Offer to pick up their medicines and drive them to important events and appointments. Or you can help them maintain their lawn and help around the house. Most senior citizens do not know how they will get their next meal. According to research, 9 million American senior citizens face hunger daily. You can volunteer for Meals on Wheels programs to deliver food to geriatrics and do safety checks on them.
By helping out a senior citizen, you can gain a new perspective on life and strengthen your skills.
- Become a Mentor:
As a young adult, you have the potential to change a life. And it would be a shame to waste that. More than 2.2 billion children around the world live in vulnerable situations. As a mentor, you can provide a positive and empowering change to their lives.
Be a stable authority figure in the lives of children to help create stable and happier adults. According to research, 46% of children with mentors are less likely to use drugs or controlled substances.
And the good news is that anyone can be a mentor. All you need to do is: be at least 21 years of age and live in a stable living situation. By meeting vulnerable youth 2 to 4 times per month, you can bring real change to their lives.
As a mentor, you can help juveniles overcome adversity by interacting with them. Become an inspiring role model for the youth to help them build a brighter future.
- Work with Veterans:
Military life is not easy. Trying to return to society after years with the military is very challenging. Veterans have to face PTSD, manage injuries acquired in battle, and try to reenter society as a functional citizen. After years of stress and trauma, this is more than most can bear on their own.
Social workers can help veterans do their everyday activities. You can volunteer to give them necessary transport services as part of the VA volunteer transportation network. Not only can volunteering benefit veterans, but it can also make you eligible for multiple college scholarships.
You can also help active-duty troops and wounded soldiers through Operation Gratitude. Most troops and wounded soldiers lead a challenging life, and they need to believe that people are rooting for them. Send a care package to say “Thank You” to a first responder.
- Help the Homeless:
Thousands of people in America struggle with homelessness every year. And with COVID-19, the situation is only becoming worse. Homeless people are the most vulnerable to the virus and its effects.
Fortunately, you can volunteer to help the homeless in their time of need. Often, homeless people usually want others to look at them with humanity. Try to strike a conversation with them to make them feel valued. Strike up a conversation with them and show respect and compassion for their situation. This gesture alone can improve their lives.
Many areas have local services to help the underprivileged. You can donate necessary resources to these organizations. Since proper hygiene is vital to protection from the spread, you can pass the hygiene kits to help homeless people disinfect. Just collect travel-size shampoos, soaps, toothbrushes, and combs to donate to homeless shelters. You can also donate warm clothing and blankets to shelters to protect the hungry and destitute from the elements.
There are few places where homeless people can get a free meal without any judgment, and one of them is a soup kitchen. Try to volunteer at your local kitchen to help out the homeless. You can volunteer to cook, clean up, or assemble the food.
Homelessness is widespread around the world. Unfortunately, people usually treat the homeless with contempt by others. By helping these people, you can restore some dignity to their lives.
The Final Word:
Volunteering is an excellent way to get a lay of the land before you jump into the social work sector. Not only will you gain hands-on experience through community service, but you will also improve your resume. Furthermore, you will give back to the community and bring real change to the lives of others.