The Friendship Club strives to make a positive impact on girls in six key areas. One of these areas is Community Connectedness, which is provided in so many ways: interactions with our volunteers, donors and community members at the Club and our events, visiting places of business in our community to get a behind the scenes look, bringing in presenters with expertise in certain topics, and engaging them in community service. Over the course of the past year, girls in The Friendship Club have engaged in 41 community service activities, logging an impressive 916 hours. These activities run the gamut from serving monthly dinners for the local veterans and child care at community events, to providing event support to TFC and other organizations (set up, clean up, selling raffle tickets, assisting attendees, etc.) and organizing inventory at a local thrift store benefiting another non- profit.
“Friendship Club really helps me understand why giving community support is a big part of belonging to the community around us.” (11th grade girl)
In order for communities to grow and thrive, people must step up and take leadership roles. Engaging youth in their communities has multiple benefits, one of which is training our younger citizens to be involved in meaningful ways in the community that can affect change. When youth engage in their communities in meaningful ways, they develop problem-solving, event planning, time management, and marketing skills. They learn about other community agencies and non-profits. These experiences involve teamwork, collaboration, and interaction. They are training grounds for goal setting, working with limited resources, and motivating others to help. These experiences are often transformative for youth and teach them how to think critically about the world around them.
Additionally, research indicates that volunteering and community service is good for our health. In a 2008 study, researchers at the London School of Economics and Political Science found a link between self-reported levels of good health and happiness and formal volunteer work. Furthermore, a 2013 study by United Health Group says that 76% of people who have volunteered in the past twelve months say that volunteering has made them feel happier, and 94% of people report that it improves their mood. 78% of volunteers say that it has lowered their stress levels.
We often don’t get to witness the long-term impact that The Friendship Club has on the girls. However, staff, volunteers and donors help provide the myriad of opportunities for the girls to connect to something that is bigger than they are, to engage with others that are doing good work, and to look beyond themselves and understand the positive role they can contribute to their communities. It is through these connections that they begin to realize that they can make a difference in the world- which leads to better choices and an overall greater sense of happiness.
“Leadership (i.e., being involved in the community) at the club has shown that, just because I’m a kid does not mean I’m unable to do anything substantial.” (8th grade girl)