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St Louis Volunteen

09 Nov

Some kids are amazing!  I recently came across a website called Kids Are Heroes that profiles kids who have made a difference in their community.  Today’s profile is about one of those kids…Simone.

Simone started St Louis Volunteen with her brother Jake when they were finding it hard to find volunteer opportunities that would welcome youth without their guardian or parent on site.  They took the initiative to create a website for area youth and local nonprofits. No previous website or resource existed.  The success of the website inspired them to also organize the first St Louis Youth and Family Volunteer Fair on April 11, 2010.

St Louis Volunteen’s mission is to spread the spirit of youth volunteerism in the St Louis Metropolitan community by offering a comprehensive website for youth ages 10-17 and families to easily find volunteer opportunities in the St. Louis and surrounding communities.  St Louis Volunteen provides a vehicle for non-profit organizations to promote their cause with an annual Youth and Family Volunteer Fair.  Over 1200 youth have found volunteer opportunities through the site and fair. The website is also listed as a resource link on several area school district websites.

A recent accomplishment of St Louis Volunteen was their Youth and Family Volunteer Fair.  It brought over 25 family and youth volunteer friendly organizations to share their mission with over 550 guests. The local Children’s Museum hosted the event and plan to make it an annual event.  The entry fee for this year’s fair was a can a food.  Over 550 young people attended the event donating over 850 pounds of food to a local food bank.  The 2nd Youth and Family Volunteer Fair is scheduled for April 10, 2011.

When asked why she volunteers, Simone says, “My parents really encouraged community service. My dad is on the local school board and is in the Navy. My mom volunteers in the elementary school. When my dad was deployed, the community jumped in to help out my family. It meant the world to my mom that our community was there to help if we needed something. I was very touched by the kindness and outpouring of support we received. I wanted to volunteer at the local VA to show my appreciation for those that serve and served our country. I also wanted to volunteer to understand the problems that exist in our community. I am fortunate that I have a roof over my head, food on the table and an opportunity for an education. Not everyone is as fortunate. I wanted to step away from my neighborhood and see if I could try making an impact in the community.”  Simone goes on to describe her most memorable volunteer experience, “I also volunteer at a crisis nursery that is open 24/7 for children in need. I was truly inspired when I was able to comfort a child and help them adjust to their temporary situation. I realized that one person can make a difference.”

In addition to volunteering, Simone also encourages non-profit organizations to accept youth volunteers.  She is also currently working on creating a national database and encourages youth and non-profits to promote Youth and Family Volunteer Fairs throughout the nation.

St Louis Volunteen maintains a website to promote youth volunteer opportunities.  They also post many short term and one time opportunities via Twitter.

Update: In March 2012, St Louis Volunteen went national!  You can find their national organization at volunteennation.org.

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