As a freshman, Emi Rohn, a Berkeley High School (BHS) graduate, saw an issue with the way teenagers, who are often eager to help, could connect with volunteer organizations. That’s when she founded TeensVolunteer.org, a non-profit organization that helps teens find volunteer opportunities.
TeensVolunteer.org was created in 2018 with the objective to help people all over the world, from New York to South Korea. There are upwards of twenty thousand teens connected to global volunteering opportunities and more than six hundred different ways to help communities around the world. When volunteering, there are many different options of how to help. A few of the main ones are working in food banks, tutoring kids from different countries and teaching them English, playing music for war veterans and senior citizens, feeding the houseless, and many others.
When Rohn started, her club only operated in Berkeley and the East Bay, but it quickly grew to encompass all of the Bay Area and later on cover all of California and the rest of the United States. For example, Bishop O’Dowd now has a chapter, and so does South High, a high school in Torrance near Long Beach and Los Angeles. Even though she now attends Dartmouth, Rohn runs the organization with the help of a global teen-only team. “Our goal is to connect teenagers from all over the world, specifically in California, with volunteer opportunities. We offer in-person opportunities in California and virtually anywhere in the world,” she said.
In June of 2020, TeensVolunteer.org won a grant from The Changemaker Project. “The Changemaker Project is a club at BHS that looks to do social change,” said Matt Albinson, the BHS teacher in charge of the technology aspects of TeensVolunteer.org. Organizations and clubs all over the world in cities like Zanzibar, Tokyo, Kolkata, and Copenhagen apply for this grant. Out of the many applicants, in 2020, only ten received grants in the end.
TeensVolunteer.org has made a huge difference in not only the Berkeley community, but also communities around the world. “We have hundreds of users for our website every day and that gets many people involved with organizations, so this is a really vital service for these organizations who need teenage volunteers,” said Rohn.
Not only that, the service also benefits the teenagers who sign up. “The main objective of TeensVolunteer.org is to get teenagers active in helping their communities,” said Albinson. Colleges like seeing students do service projects, and so doing these service projects will help the teenagers in their futures.