During high school years, many students are recognized for the time and effort they put into sports and music. Finding the time to devote to volunteerism can be hard for all of us but especially for teens who are already juggling responsibilities of school, family, sports, work, and other activities. Making time for volunteerism is every bit as important as other commitments that teens have, so United Way dedicates time each spring to recognize students from throughout Washtenaw County by awarding a Varsity Letter in Community Service.
We know there are hundreds of students in Washtenaw County volunteering hundreds of hours. We are proud to acknowledge and thank students for their hard work and dedication.
It’s easy to apply: Students who have completed 145 hours of verifiable volunteer work in both school related and non-related activities should submit an application by May 15. Applications are reviewed and awardees are honored with a Varsity Letter from their respective public or private high schools. United Way of Washtenaw County awarded over 20 Community Service Varsity Letters in 2018 and awards one $1,000 college scholarship to one student. This year’s reception will be held on June 6th starting at when awards and letters will be given out.
Students have found extensive volunteer opportunities throughout our county and globally. Past applicants have participated in or founded service oriented school clubs like The United Way Service Club, LEO, and Key Club. Some have tutoring within their school or in other organizations to promote literacy. Some students have created their own service projects based on needs they have identified in our community. Many students take part in mission trips, work at food banks, and partner with non-profit organizations that benefit our community.
The benefits of volunteering are not only to the community, teens who volunteer report that they feel more successful and connected to their community while gaining valuable work and learning experience. They gain social awareness and empathy for people. Consistent volunteerism can also make a college application stand out to university admissions directors.
Sheila Pedersen, AFL-CIO Community Services Liaison at United Way of Washtenaw County, initiated this program after noticing a need to engage and recognize high school students in our county. She says the goal is to “recognize civic-minded youth to cultivate the next generation of volunteers, social workers, and community leaders.” The United Way awards an average of 20 students a year, partnering with the AFL-CIO Labor Organization who donate time, money and energy to administer the program and chose the scholarship recipient.
We are proud of the spirit of youth volunteerism in Washtenaw County and hope you will join us in spreading the word about this honor available to service-minded high school students. For more information, and to apply, see info here.