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In honor of Mother’s Day we have a guest post from Jessica Kirkwood, Vice President, Interactive Strategy for Points of Light Instutute. Jessica is a good friend of AARP and can be found on Twitter at @heyjk.

Mother’s Day is fast approaching and I find myself thinking about my role as a mother.

Picking out a card for my own mother, now a mother myself, I have a deeper appreciation for the work of motherhood, the endless nose wiping, lunch packing, soccer shuttling and laundry folding.

While that work is important to keep the business of family afloat, I find myself focused on what it was my mom did that created my sense of ethics, of right and wrong.

How did she nurture my sense of justice and the call to service embedded in my DNA?

To truly honor her, not just on Mother’s Day, but every day, I want to pass these values on my own children.

I have spent most of my career working in volunteerism and am the first to admit that it’s not easy to find service projects that welcome young children. And even when they do, trying to schedule a service project around the chaos of family life can be discouraging.

So here’s a list of 10 steps to giving your mom the best Mother’s Day gift of all – grandchildren who will grow up to be concerned, engaged citizens of the world.

ONE:

Ask your kids what they’d like to do to make the world better.  What do they wish was different?  Maybe they want to make a difference for the environment, for other kids, for the homeless – what matters most is that they get asked the question.  Having these conversations with our children is as important and formative as the service experience itself.

TWO:

Based on your children’s interests, search for a project that will help them be the change they wish to see in the world.

Here are a few places to look:

HandsOn Network – HandsOn Network’s website allows you to search for an action center near you and then search their project database.  “Filter by project attribute” allows you to select projects appropriate for ages 5+, 10+, 12+, etc.  “Filter by impact areas” allows you to sort by environment, homelessness, etc.

All For Good – All for Good houses a larger collection of volunteer projects than HandsOn Network. At All for Good you can filter the search results by impact area, but not be age appropriateness, so you may have to vet the opportunities a bit further.

VolunteerMatch – VolunteerMatch’s advanced search allows you to enter a lot of different criteria to find a project.  You can filter by “kids” and “teens” as well.

THREE:

Think of everything in advance.  (But we already do this, right?  Raise your hand if you have a purse full of snacks.)

Ask the project coordinator about age appropriateness, safety, dress and training.

FOUR:

Try it once before making a long term family commitment.  (I so wish I had done this before committing to two kids in soccer at the same time!)

FIVE:

At the project, model awesome volunteer behavior.  Be prompt, courteous & eager to help.

SIX:

During the project, praise & encourage little ones’ “big” efforts!

SEVEN:

After the project, talk about how things went – swap thoughts & stories.

EIGHT:

Celebrate! What a great achievement! Scrapbook memories & keep a volunteer calendar.

NINE:

Ready for more? Brainstorm ideas together!

TEN:

Invite other friends and families along next time!

Happy Mother’s Day!

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