Drawing on deeply moving personal accounts from young people who have become involved in community service, as well as on data from recent national surveys, Learning to Care looks at why teenagers become involved in volunteer work, what problems and pressures they face, and what we can do to nurture caring in our youth. Robert Wuthnow's intimate interviews bring to life the stories of high school student volunteers, teenagers such as Tanika Lane, a freshman who works with Literacy Education and Direction (LEAD), a job-training program for inner-city kids, and Amy Stone, a homecoming queen and student-body president at a suburban southern school who organizes rallies for AIDS awareness. Through these profiles, Wuthnow shows that caring is not innate but learned, in part from the spontaneous warmth of family life, and in part from finding the right kind of volunteer work. He contends that a volunteer's sense of service is shaped by what they find in school service clubs, in shelters for the homeless, in working with AIDS victims, or in tutoring inner-city children. And Wuthnow also argues that the best environment to nurture the helping impulse is the religious setting, where in fact the great bulk of volunteering in America takes place. In these organizations, as well as in schools and community agencies, teenagers can find the role models and moral incentives that will instill a sense of service that they can then carry into their adult life.
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