While no two projects will be the same, successful projects will share a few common practices. We encourage you to incorporate the following elements into your service project:
- Create a team with your friends and neighbors to share the effort;
- Set outcome-based goals and track your progress to those goals;
- Celebrate your successes together.
The Challenge: Many community-based organizations do not have enough capacity to manage a large number of volunteers, so they need you to organize yourself in coordination with them. This tool kit is designed to either help you organize a group and be a positive addition to a community-based organization, or, if such an organization does not exist, to be a well-organized independently-run group that fills a needed gap in the community.
A step by step guide to getting started and executing service activities follows. Please let us know how your project goes and what you learn by telling your story at Serve.gov.
Step One: Identify Local Partners
Check out the organizations already doing good work improving children's health in your area, such as hosting children's immunization drives or promoting healthy living through exercise or nutrition education. Many existing service groups have identified community needs and built the expertise to provide solutions.
- Search national organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs or local United Way chapters to see how volunteers can contribute.
- Get a guide to finding local partners.
- Often community health centers (search for local health centers), hospitals, and other clinical settings utilize volunteers to assist with community events, health fairs, and on-going initiatives that help to promote children's health.
- Link up with a national service program. Many AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and other national service programs currently assist non-profits in your community to recruit, train, and recognize volunteers. Some current AmeriCorps programs include the National AIDS Fund, the Community HealthCorps, the American Red Cross, and the National Health Corps. If you are having trouble identifying a local organization focused on children's health, many school districts host community events related to healthy lifestyles and fitness.
Step Two: Build a Team
Teams can help share the work, motivate members, and hold each other accountable. Teams build community. Ask your family, friends, colleagues, faith group members, book club devotees to serve with you.
- Host a house meeting or pot luck to choose a project, set goals, recruit volunteers, and plan next steps.
- Get a guide for hosting a house meeting.
- Post your service activity on Serve.gov.
Step Three: Set a Goal
Set a service goal and hold yourself accountable. Find out what your partner organization needs and then work to fill that need. Commit as individuals and as a team to volunteering a certain number of hours promoting children's health (such as number of hours spent advertising an immunization drive or working at a drive, exercising with kids, or promoting education on healthy eating). Set your goals high to stretch yourself. Then keep track of how you are doing and designate someone to be responsible for updating the group on how you are progressing toward your goals. You’ll be surprised at how much you can do when you commit, focus, and follow through.
Step Four: Serve Your Community
The key to effective service is planning. Organize your materials, make confirmation calls, and, if you have time, read supplemental materials before you volunteer.
Step Five: Report and Celebrate Successes
Your team members, the community, and the President want to know about your successes and hear your stories. Share your accomplishments by reporting your results. We will highlight the best stories throughout the year. Tell us about your successes and what you have learned, or just tell your story of service at Serve.gov.