Family Volunteer Day: Making a Child's Happiness Last His Whole Life

We’re getting ready for our Family Volunteer Day this Saturday, November 21. We’ll be helping the St. John’s Neighborhood and J.J. Pickle Elementary with some beautification projects, entertain the kiddos with Mr. Steve’s Silly Sing-a-long Extravaganza, kids arts and crafts and learn how the St. John’s community is creating change. It’s not too late to volunteer, you can still bring your kids and join us!

Family Volunteer Day
Saturday, November 21
9:00am – 1:00pm
St. John’s Neighborhood Center
7500 Blessing Avenue
Austin, TX 78752

To inspire you, we had one of our Hispanic Engagement Advisory Board members & GivingCity editor, Monica Williams write up a short piece on her experience with family volunteering. Read it here or you can also read it en Español on Ahora Si!

Making a Child’s Happiness Last His Whole Life

Monica Maldonado Williams
Editor, GivingCity Austin

My five-year-old son, Samuel, loves to run. He’s been challenging me to races since he was able to walk, and some of his first words were “hurry” and “turbo.”

So when he heard about Marathon Kids two years ago, the annual health and fitness program for school-aged children in Austin, he asked me to sign him up immediately. But Sam wasn’t in Kindergarten yet. He would have to wait until next year to participate.

We were not deterred. I found out that the “final mile” event would be held at Burger Stadium near our house. So I asked Sam if he wanted to be a volunteer with me.

“Does that mean I get to run?”

“No, Sam. It means we help the other kids have fun. But we’ll probably have fun, too, and that way we can check it out before you run it next year.”

“Okay, Mommy. Let’s do it!”

And we did have fun, handing out medals and high-fives to the other kids. I could tell Sam soaked up all their energy, and we both felt great on the way home. The thing is I don’t think Sam realized he was volunteering at all. I think he just felt … happy.

We try to make helping others a part of our daily activities. I teach Sunday school at our church, and Sam helps me set up the tables and materials. He also gathers some of his toys and clothes to give away to Goodwill about every other month. We’ve “adopted” a girl named Elina in Malawi; Sam picked her because she was his same age. And we often buy extra tacos or hamburgers to hand out to a homeless person at a stoplight. This Fall, we’re looking forward to helping out at United Way’s Family Volunteer Day on November 21st.

I’m not saying Sam’s not spoiled. He throws a fit in Walgreen’s when he doesn’t get a toy just like every other kid – it’s a child’s natural instinct to want more. But slowly, and through everyday acts of kindness, I hope he also develops a giving instinct, one that helps him appreciate more of what he has, and ultimately, helps make him happy his whole life.

To volunteer as a family for United Way’s Family Volunteer Day on November 21st, go to or call 2-1-1.

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