A Community Guide to Teen Service

| 26 Sep 2012 | 11:21

“The best thing a teen can give the rest of the world is to give the world the best of themself.” This motto has helped Pass It Along celebrate 10 years of giving area young people a chance to “take their passion and their gifts and make their community a better place,” Diane Taylor, founder and CEO of Pass It Along, says.
Pass It Along emphasizes youth learning through volunteer service. Requiring a “reflection piece” after each volunteer assignment, “helps teens hone in on what they’re passionate about while they’re serving,” Taylor says. By working in partnership with an extensive list of “hands-on” non-profit organizations in Sussex, Warren, and Morris Counties, Pass It Along helps teens find the niche where they can contribute the most to their community.
Taylor says that the current “top-3” categories for teen volunteering in this area are mentoring, working with the mentally and physically challenged, and environmental service—which includes everything from park cleanups and tree planting to recycling and green energy education. By volunteering on a local level throughout these formative tears, Taylor says, teens are able to build “a lifelong ethic of service.”

Varinda Missett, founder of Girl’s World Expo, says that she has noticed this ethic of service in the youth of this area. The 8-member “Girls Advisory Group” has set up the September 30th Sussex County Technical School expo quite unlike any expo she has seen in the past 7 years: “Everything has a community or philanthropic angle,” Missett says, adding that the girls are actually bringing volunteer organizations to the event to recruit, “which is something we haven’t seen before.”