Marshell and her daughter volunteering at the Philadelphia READS Book Bank on MLK Day of Service.
In her 11 years of volunteering with the Blue Crew, some of Marshell Vicks’ most meaningful experiences weren’t hers — they were her daughters’. As a member of the Blue Crew advisory board, her approach to community service is: “You’ve got to give back. If you have the time, why not do it?” And that goes for her kids, too.
When her children were around 14, she began taking them along on volunteer opportunities around Philadelphia. She found that it increased their bond. Eventually, Marshell and her daughters started urging their local girls’ group to start volunteering. “We needed the girls to see that there’s another side of things,” Marshell told us. “People don’t all live the way we live, and people need help.”
Volunteering is a family affair
Their first project was with Chosen 300 Ministries, a homeless shelter. The girls were surprised to see children around their age. “Of course.” Marshell remembers telling them. “What do you think happens to children whose parents are homeless? Generally the kids are homeless, too!”
The girls were overwhelmed — they hadn’t realized that they could have such a big impact. Marshell’s daughters, having lots of experience volunteering with their mom, told the group that there were plenty of other opportunities. And with that, more lifelong volunteers were born.
Getting kids involved in community service, Marshell explains, helps them understand that there’s a big world outside their bubble of house and family. “There are other aspects of life and things that people need and could use your help with.”
Organizations can help you volunteer as a family
Getting inspired to serve with your little ones? Marshell suggest the following organizations for volunteering with children:
- Cradles to Crayons: This organization’s mission is to provide essential items to children 12 and younger.
- Chosen 300 Ministries: With locations throughout Philadelphia, they provide outreach, services, and meals to the homeless.
- United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern Jersey: Marshell recommends signing up for their newsletter to have a variety of volunteer opportunities delivered to your inbox monthly.
“Your time is valuable — Why not give it?”
For kids who are at least 18 years old, Marshell recommends the Ronald McDonald House, which provides free or low-cost housing to families whose children are being treated at nearby hospitals.
In fact, she and her children (now 25 and 19) still volunteer there, and elsewhere.
“I want them to know that they always have to do this. Because, while we’re not wanting for anything, there are people who are.
“Your time is valuable to someone else — why not give it to them?”
We’re profiling members of the advisory board for our Independence Blue Cross (Independence) Corporate Volunteer Program — the Blue Crew. Blue Crew advisory board members lead individual projects, promote volunteerism, and evaluate and select the organizations, projects, and events our Blue Crew supports. Know an organization or a local event that could use enthusiastic volunteers? Contact the Blue Crew.