At my private high school from home, volunteer hours are as mandatory of a graduation requirement as language and math credits. Everyone in the school must participate in at least 5 hours of volunteer work every quarter or else they fail their “outreach” requirement. Although this might sound a bit overboard, I always appreciated this about my school as they taught me how important it is to care for others who are less fortunate than me. The organizations I was most involved with in high school were Beacon Hospice, Big Brother Big Sister, the Nashua Children’s Home, Care Net Pregnancy Center, and the Southern New Hampshire Rescue Mission.
I wanted to blog on this subject of volunteering because I remember in high school the gender difference in the people I volunteered with and think it is something really interesting to consider. After doing more research, I discovered that women greatly outnumber men in volunteer work (over 32% of women volunteer whereas less than 25% of men do). It is also interesting to note that the largest “demographic” of people who volunteer actually have full time jobs. Which means it is not an excuse to say that men work more and therefore do not have time to give up their time to volunteer work because those who are currently volunteering typically have full time jobs.
Currently in New Hampshire, we are having such a shortage of male volunteers for Big Brother Big Sister (1 in every 10) that the organization is asking the female mentors if they would mind taking on a “little brother.” The whole purpose of this program is to provide good role models for children from homes without positive examples of the same sex. I think it is such a shame that men in my hometown haven’t stepped up to take on these roles, but I am glad that my school promotes this organization as there are now 12 new Big Brother/Little Brother relationships because of it.
I remember in high school, the attitude of the girls towards volunteering was also much different than the guys’. Some say women are the “selfless sex,” but I honestly think it is just more culturally acceptable for women to volunteer than men. It is sad to say, but male nurses and men with nurturing jobs are given a double take simply because of society’s stereotyping of “women being the comforters.” What a lot of people don’t realize, however, is that there are SO MANY different kinds of ways to volunteer that don’t necessarily have to do with being in a hospital caring for a sick person or baking for a family who just underwent a traumatic experience.
A bunch of the boys in my graduating class worked in the Southern New Hampshire Rescue Mission, not dishing out dinners like I did, but building bathrooms and bedrooms for the residents to stay in. They were still devoting their time and making a difference in people’s lives, but they were able to use their talents, physical strength in this case, in order to volunteer. I would like to strongly recommend to everyone, especially the four men, to somehow get plugged into volunteer work around campus. There is so much to do, and so many people (especially children in Ithaca) who can use our help!
(Also, the picture above is from a trip to Ukraine that my school's dance team and I went on. We danced in gypsy villages and orphanages all around the country. It was pretty incredible, and to this day, still the favorite two weeks of my life)