Service Learning, Community Service and Volunteering
At all times, people have helped each other in different life situations. Currently, there are three main types of such assistance: service-learning, community service, and volunteering. Today, the value of involving people in various types of public works is important because it contributes to the development of the skill of applying knowledge and transforming it into a socially significant result, understanding the relationship between academic subjects and fundamental problems, as well as the formation of civil social responsibility.
Volunteer activity is a freewill form of association for the achievement of socially important goals that promote social activity and the personal growth of its participants. The volunteer movement aims to develop and develop social activity, increasing the level of responsibility, fostering loyalty, honesty, justice, tolerance, friendship, kindness, and hard work. In the United States, almost half of the citizens are involved in voluntary activities in 1998 (Simsa et al. 105). Regardless of age, race, gender, or religion, volunteers help other people or lead an event. They spend their time, experience, knowledge, skills, and abilities for the public good. The peculiarity of volunteer work is that it is not paid. Thus, it can be said that such people are not only altruists, but they work to gain experience, special skills, and knowledge and establish personal contacts.
In recent years, such a form of training as service learning has become widespread in U.S. educational institutions. Service-learning is a form of learning in which the knowledge taught is deepened through activities for the benefit of others in a process that involves time to reflect on such activities and demonstrate the acquired knowledge and skills. Service-learning has become widespread in the United States; half of all senior schools use projects based on it, and each year, several million students participate in such projects (Conner and Erickson 55). Federal and local governments support projects, and various agencies invest millions of dollars annually in the development, development, and improvement of this methodology.
Service-learning has earned its popularity because students benefit academically, socially, and emotionally. They develop skills, explore career alternatives, and gain the opportunity to recognize the values of civic responsibility and active participation in society. This method of assistance also benefits the administration of educational institutions. The management may note an increase in the morale of teachers and students as they achieve the desired academic results and an increase in positive interest in the school from the public. Thus, teaching through service is a powerful means of civic education, teaching people to interact, be more tolerant, and take an active part in changing the surrounding reality, offering to deepen school knowledge.
One of the most common ways to attract citizens to socially beneficial work is community service. It also occupies an important place in the field of combating the lack of employment in the population. Community services are generally understood as labor activity types that have a socially valuable orientation, organized to provide temporary employment for unemployed and job-seeking citizens (Barnoux 34). Almost everyone can participate in public works: no special training, experience, or knowledge is required from the employee. The employer enters into a cooperation agreement with the employment center. Then the employment center sends citizens who are registered and who want to participate in public works to organizations.
For the first time, the development and implementation of community service programs were carried out in the United States. In the early 1930s, during the economic crisis and the Great Depression, the U.S. government used public works as a temporary alternative to permanent employment (Barnoux 35). The main difference between this type of assistance is that it is paid. The amounts that citizens who are employed in this way receive are significantly higher than the benefits. It is also important that the moral and psychological state of people who perform public works is much better than those who are not employed. There is a particular benefit in this form of employment for enterprises as well. The funds are spent on specific socially valuable activities that bring profit to the company.
Houston Food Bank is a non-profit organization and the largest food distribution bank in the United States. This organization provides access to millions of nutritious meals in 18 counties in southeast Texas (Goldrick-Rab et al. 3). Food banks accept donations in the form of products or money for their purchase, receive state subsidies, and receive goods with an expiring sales period from retail chains and suppliers. The quality and freshness of the products are carefully monitored. Social assistance in the form of free food and food can be received by any person, regardless of whether they have citizenship or a green card, or the status of being in the country.
The Houston Food Bank first opened on March 8, 1982, when the idea of alleviating hunger was realized by compassionate people (Goldrick-Rab et al. 5). Their first location was a storefront in a shopping mall in north Houston. The main function of the Houston Food Bank is to provide a large amount of food to families and individuals who are experiencing hunger through relief organizations such as food pantries and shelters. Besides, Food Bank provides programs and services aimed at helping families achieve long-term stability, including nutrition education, vocational training, health management, and assistance in obtaining government assistance. People supported by the food bank are primarily those who do not have constant access to sufficient nutritious food to maintain a healthy life (Riches 24). To address this problem, the Houston Food Bank distributes food and other necessities to those in need through a network of 1,500 community partners (Riches 156). The only thing that worsens the situation with food in banks is a significant reduction in charitable contributions. To cover the shortfall, food banks buy food in stores.
Voluntary activity can be very different because any work outside of your own home can be considered such if a person does not receive material remuneration for it. To help people who find themselves in a difficult situation, there is a paid job, which pursues many goals at once, bringing benefits to all interaction parties. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to participate, but I believe that any assistance is of great importance to society. Volunteering and service learning contribute to changing the worldview of people themselves and those around them. These communication methods benefit both the society and the participants who, through this activity, develop their skills and abilities, satisfy the need for communication and self-esteem, and realize their usefulness and needs. People who participate in social assistance develop critical personal qualities, an enhanced sense of personal values, and civic responsibility.
Barnoux, Magali. “Community services and transforming care: reflections and considerations.” Tizard Learning Disability Review, vol. 24, no. 1, 2019, pp. 33-37.
Conner, Jerusha, and Joseph Erickson. “When Does Service-Learning Work? Contact Theory and Service-Learning Courses in Higher Education.” Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, vol. 23, no.2, 2017, pp. 53-65.
Goldrick-Rab, Sara, et al. “Houston Food Scholarship Program report.” Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice, Temple University, 2020, pp. 2-43.
Riches, Graham. Food bank nations: Poverty, corporate charity and the right to food. Routledge, 2018.
Simsa, Ruth, et al. “Spontaneous volunteering in social crises: Self-organization and coordination.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, vol. 48, no. 2, 2019, pp.103-122.