Launch Global Education
Sparks blog: Community: More than just volunteering

by Dr. Ann Wagner

Students hear it a lot: you need to have a lot of community service hours for your college applications. No doubt many of you immediately think of packing meals for underserved people or assisting at an animal shelter. And these are some great ways to serve your community. However, to expand your thinking, let’s start by discussing the many communities with which you are already familiar.

dogs in a cage


Loosely, a community is a group of people joined together by a common purpose. Your school, for example, is a community. A place of worship is a community. Your city is a community too. There are communities to which you already belong and there are communities that you might potentially serve. When you serve a community, you become a part of that community.


Let’s look at an example. Your local recreation center has a Senior Center. This is a place where retired people come together with common interests, such as a book club or travel groups. They would like to have a website to promote the center’s calendar of events. Your grandmother is a member of the book club and knows that you are tech-savvy. She suggests that you could volunteer to build the website for them. In doing so, you serve the community and also become a part of that community.

men playing chess

Expanding your vision

You belong to many communities and many more surround you. In what ways can you become more engaged with them? In what ways might you serve them? Don’t think of this as a way to fill out your college brag sheet, rather, look at it as a way to expand upon things that already interest you in a more meaningful way. 

It is not about how many different things you do; it is about engaging in your community in a way that is meaningful to you and hopefully beneficial to others. This could include starting a club at your school, taking a leadership position at a youth organization, or even starting a small business that fills a need in your city. Take a look around you—meaningful engagement with your community takes many shapes and forms.

student at computer

Stick with it

Once you have found that thing that drives you, stick with it! It is over a longer period of engagement that we truly see our efforts grow and bear fruit. Done well, your community service will go from feeling like a burden to something that could be the best part of your day.

Dr. Ann Wagner

Ann Wagner, EdD is a founder and the Vision Engineer for Launch Education.  Dr. Wagner has led international schools around the world and currently teaches at the university level, working with educators earning their masters' degrees.