What Does Philanthropy Look Like in 2019? To This Group of Gen Z, It’s Volunteering.

A spacious dining hall reverberated with the eager chatter of 12 Denison University volunteers. It was their first week of college, and the group traveled over 500 miles to volunteer for a cause they care deeply about: feeding the homeless.

“At this time in our lives,” shares student volunteer leader, Atticus, “I personally believe it’s really important for young people to step out of their comfort zones.”

The students from Denison came to DC as part of a pre-orientation community service trip. Over the course of the week, students had the opportunity to give back, serve and bond with each other while taking part in a variety of volunteer projects such as preparing and serving food at So Others Might Eat (SOME), a United Way of the National Capital Area nonprofit partner.

“When we think about people as a ‘they’ it sort of distances ourselves from what’s happening he explains. “Getting hands-on experience with these people brings a whole new light to problems that are happening in our neighborhoods, in our communities, in our cities.”

The issue of homelessness is not limited to big cities. Affordable housing is declining across much of the United States, as the cost of living continues to spike while wages for many Americans remain stagnant. For many individuals experiencing homelessness, working minimum wage jobs or collecting disability, or helpful services like housing vouchers remains a system difficult to navigate. Resources like food, health and case management services offered at SOME are tackling the day-to-day needs of our neighbors experiencing homelessness.

It takes just a single person to initiate change. When you choose to volunteer and give of your time and talents – great things can happen. It’s true that whether it’s for an hour, a day, once a week, or once a month, you can make a tremendous impact on another person’s life and in our community. And yet, most of us don’t engage in volunteerism as often as we’d like. However, that may change as businesses across the globe shift their priorities from shareholder profit to community sustainability in what is becoming a global movement to give back.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities in the National Capital Area, visit  volunteer.unitedwaynca.org