Have you heard about the Presidential Volunteer Service Award?  It is an award given by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation to individuals, families, and groups that have provided a certain number of volunteer service hours in a 12-month period.  http://www.presidentialserviceawards.gov/tg/pvsainfo/dspAboutAwards.cfm

The Council created the President’s Volunteer Service Award program “as a way to thank and honor Americans who, by their demonstrated commitment and example, inspire others to engage in volunteer service.”

One of the great things about this award is that it is available to anyone age 5 and up.  It is a wonderful way to show a child that the community service he/she is doing is valuable and appreciated. 

The award is a lapel pin – bronze, silver, or gold, depending on the number of service hours.  The service hour requirements for children ages 5-14 are: 100 for gold, 75 for silver, and 50 for bronze. The timeframe is 12 months.

Our high schools currently require students to do a total of 25 hours of community service over four years.  So you can see that if a child volunteers 50 hours in a single year, that truly is something significantly above and beyond.

The service hour requirements for “young adults,” ages 15-25, are: 250 for gold, 175 for silver, and 100 for bronze.  This is something that college-bound high school students should keep in mind if they do a lot of volunteer work.  Having the Presidential Volunteer Service Award on their resume, along with a description of the 100+ hours volunteered to earn it, definitely will get the attention of admissions officers.

According to the 2010 Community Service and College Admissions Study by DoSomething.org, the President’s Volunteer Service Award is viewed as one of the top community service awards by college admissions officers. http://www.youthunitedcd.org/DoSomething.org_College_Admissions_Study.pdf

Another attractive aspect of this award is that it can be earned by families and groups.  The service hour requirements are: 1000 for gold, 500 for silver, and 200 for bronze.  This could be a wonderful idea for Scout troops, church groups, etc.  Also, it is a really neat idea for families. How cool it would be for parents to say to their kids, “Hey, let’s earn this community service award as a family.”  What a great project!

So how do you get the award?  You keep track of your hours and then submit your records to a “Certifying Organization.”  A Certifying Organization is an entity that is “approved to review and verify a volunteer’s hours, and nominate and distribute the President’s Volunteer Service Awards.”  The idea is to ensure that the hours are reviewed by an organization that knows the applicant.  Becoming a Certifying Organization is an easy process, and it is free.  A Certifying Organization can be a nonprofit or community organization; faith-based institution; civic, fraternal, or service group; business; school; government agency; or membership organization. 

My daughter’s Girl Scout Troop recently became a Certifying Organization.  Last week, the troop awarded three gold awards and one silver.  At the ceremony, it was clear from the reaction of the girls in the audience that next year there would be a lot more awards to be handed out!  The President’s Council was right — this award does inspire others to do more.