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It’s virtually unanimous: the #1 struggle for most parent organizations is getting parents to volunteer at the school. But there are huge benefits to engaging in your child’s school. So why don’t more people volunteer? That’s why we asked a handful of PTA/O experts to share what they get out of volunteering, and why more parents should join in.

1. You’ll Understand the “Why” Behind the School’s Decisions

- Brenda Wood, Oak Point Elementary PTO

One of the main reasons I volunteer is to gain a deeper understanding of the culture and decision-making process at our school. At Oak Point, we’re fortunate to have a positive relationship with our Principal and Associate Principal, and our open dialogue allows me to learn the "why" behind the many decisions being made at our school.

As parents, we don't always know all of the things that go on behind the scenes at our school. But once you get the “why,” the decisions are easier to understand, support, and appreciate.

2. You’ll Provide Better Opportunities for Students

-Brenda Wood, Oak Point Elementary PTO

Another one of the main reasons I volunteer is because I’m passionate about providing unique opportunities to all students (and ones they might not get outside of school). If you’re passionate about something, volunteering is the best way to get your voice heard and make a difference.

One of the main changes we’ve made since I joined the PTO Board is instead of paying a lot of money for off-campus field trips, we’ve set aside a large portion of our budget to bring outside opportunities to our school. This way, ALL students can benefit from them.

For example, instead of paying transportation fees for one grade to visit the zoo, we pay for the "Zoo Mobile" to visit our school each year. This way, all grades have the opportunity to learn about and experience the animals up close. We also fund programs such as visiting authors/artists, science centers, and theatrical productions, which benefit every student. I got to be a part of that change.

3. You’ll Get a Chance to Serve and Thank Your Student’s Teachers

-Cathy Ellis, Felix A. Williams Elementary PTA

Looking for a creative, heartfelt thank you gift for a teacher or staff member? Give the gift of time! Volunteering is a great way to thank those who invest 30-40 hours (actually MUCH more) each week into your child’s life.

The gift of time—whether you’re cutting out shapes, collating papers, or saving a teacher another trip to the store—can mean the world to a teacher or staff member who has a to-do list a mile long. Once, when a teacher was setting up her classroom for the new school year, not only did I save her the time involved in a shopping trip, but I sneakily paid for the items, too. The smile on her face when I offered to do her shopping was all the reward I needed.

To this day, I don’t think she knows I paid, but it was so much fun to reward her for her efforts to make the classroom comfortable for new students. Because I was around campus a lot, I discovered lots of opportunities to fulfill a variety of teacher needs (time or supplies) as they arose.

4. You’ll Keep Your Skills Sharp and Put Them to Good Use

-Cathy Ellis, Felix A. Williams Elementary PTA

When my son was born, I had the opportunity to stop working and be a stay-at-home mom, but I didn’t want my engineering skills to “go to waste.” Although I wasn’t solving differential equations, volunteering provided an outlet for me to use my organizational skills, computer skills, and creativity. It kept me sharp and benefited others in the process.

AND it helped me learn about what was going on during that 30-40 hours a week I was giving up my “babies.” I’m so thankful for every opportunity to participate in their lives in this way!

So, what else motivates people to say, “yes” to volunteering when life is so busy? Well, we feel this short poem sums it up best.


“I SAID YES” (author unknown)

I said “Yes” again

And I couldn’t believe my ears.

Yep, I said “Yes” again.

I’m one of the chronic volunteers.


They asked me for my help

And I thought, who has the time?

The phone calls and those meetings

Just for the fun and not a dime.


So I thought it over,

Do I want to give or take?

I enjoy it all so very much

The decision was easy to make.


I’ve loved every single minute

Of working with the gals

Even when the hour was late

It was always for my pals.


So please don’t try to tell me

Volunteering is a pain.

‘Cause for all the friends I’ve made and all I’ve learned,

I’ll say “Yes, Yes, Yes” again and again!

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