Where Your Teen can Volunteer This Summer in Erie

By Harlisha Homer and Kara Murphy May 9, 2018

What are your teenagers doing this summer? Outside of working or camps, many family-friendly Erie nonprofits offer summer service programs specifically for kids and teens that can offer valuable resume-building and college application experience.

You can start by looking at volunteer opportunities posted by United Way of Erie County. A recent search turned up dozens of volunteer needs at family-friendly Erie nonprofits ranging from a food pantry assistant to gardening help. You can filter by age, making it easy to find the right opportunities for your child.

Other great places to find volunteer opportunities for your teen:

1. Animals. Many zoos, sea centers, and animal shelters offer programs for teens. Some even have career programs that have application deadlines in early spring, while others simply require a general volunteer application for ongoing work. Your teen could also set up a drive for your local animal shelter, as many need items such as towels or pet supplies.

Where to start in Erie: The ANNA Shelter, the Humane Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania and the Erie Zoo.

2. Art and/or the arts. Check with local art museums, community arts programs, and local theaters to see if there are opportunities to serve. Some have ambassador programs, teen advisory boards, or docent programs, and some community theaters offer opportunities for teens to work backstage, serve as ushers, or work as interns.

Where to start in Erie: The Neighborhood Art House, Erie Art Museum or Erie Playhouse.

3. Outdoor interests. National, state, and local parks, local nature centers, botanical gardens and/or beaches often have programs for teens.

Where to start in Erie: Presque Isle State Park, Asbury Woods, and Frontier Park.

4. Science, medicine, and health. Did you know that local hospitals offer programs for teens who are interested in the health field? Did you know that some non-profits that serve ill children also have volunteer opportunities? Also, check with your local science museum.

Where to start in Erie: The Barber National Institute, UPMC Hamot, and St. Vincent Medical Center.

5. Public policy and campaigns. Want to learn more about serving in public office or campaigning? Find a local elected official or campaign you believe in.

Where to start in Erie: The Erie County Democratic Party, the Erie County Republican Party, or any candidate or public official.

6. Literacy. Your public library provides a great opportunity for your teen to serve the community, and libraries often allow younger volunteers.

Where to start in Erie: Erie County Public Library.

7. Food banks and shelters. Many local food banks and shelters need to be replenished. Your teen can organize a food, clothing, or supply drive for these agencies, or they can opt to help serve at the agency.

Where to start in Erie: Second Harvest Food Bank, SafeNet, Erie City Mission, or Erie United Methodist Alliance.

8. Senior citizens. Residents at senior facilities often like interacting with young people. Check with your local facility to see how your teen can assist. Some cities also have meal delivery programs for seniors that may need teen assistance.

Where to start in Erie: Meals on Wheels or any senior home.

9. Youth. Summer is a great time to help at a local non-profit child care facility or camp, at a summer school, or with a youth sports team. It's also a great time to organize a school supply drive for students who need them.

Where to start in Erie: YMCA of Erie County, ExpERIEnce Children's Museum, or Frontier Park.

10. Historical interests. Historical societies and history museums often have opportunities for teens who like history and want to learn more about preservation.

Where to start in Erie: Flagship Niagara League.

This list is just meant as a starting point. There are dozens of other nonprofits in Erie County that can use the help of volunteers, so start looking today for an opportunity that matches your child's interests. 


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