King George IV once said, “the highest of distinctions is service to others.” If you’ve got a bit of extra time, and want to greatly help out your community, volunteering is a truly rewarding endeavor – one which can also be a lot of fun.
Besides benefiting people in need, you may discover yourself feeling better, more energized and motivated. Working for a good cause without expecting a reward has that effect – the internal rewards are endless.
The following are five reasons to get out there and volunteer!
Your community needs you
Many organizations, such as soup kitchens and Big Brothers, Big Sisters programs, to name only two, cannot stay open without volunteer participation. These organizations, while they offer essential services, are simply not financially equipped to pay a team of employees.
Imagine a community where homeless individuals do not have a soup kitchen to go to for a meal, and instead have to go without. Or, if the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program could not operate, many children would go without the mentorship and guidance that could literally change their entire lives for the better, and shape their futures in a positive way.
Volunteers keep these organizations running.
As volunteers tend to come and go, your local non-profit community aid organizations are always looking for enthusiastic people to help out. Even if you only have a few free days in a month, your assistance would be wholeheartedly appreciated.
It can put your own problems in perspective.
If you have a lot of stress in your life, suffer from anxiety or just cannot seem to resolve a problem no matter how much you try, volunteering can give you the distance you need from your own mind and your own problems to see them from another angle. Even the act of doing something active, especially for someone else, can give you a much-needed break from worrying.
Additionally, when you volunteer with people who are in need, such as homeless, disabled or disadvantaged families and individuals, you may find that your own problems do not seem so bad. You may even discover an inner sense of gratitude that resolves a lot of your stress and anxiety.
You can volunteer doing something you love
There are so many different volunteer opportunities available in most communities that there is something for everyone. If you love being outdoors and have a green thumb, you may think about planting trees, or tending a community garden. If you have a flair for cooking, you could use your culinary skills to prepare dinners for visitors to a soup kitchen, or cooking meals for a Meals on Wheels program.
You can even get active and volunteer to help at a charity athletic event, such as a breast cancer walk or run. That way, you’ll be getting your daily exercise, enjoying the sun (most of these events are held in the summer) and helping raise money for a worthy cause, as well.
You can learn something new about yourself
While you can volunteer doing something you love and are skilled at, you may also choose to volunteer to step outside of your comfort zone and do something completely different. For example, perhaps you have never really been around senior citizens, but come across a volunteering opportunity to read or prepare meals at a retirement center.
Through taking on this opportunity, which may be a challenge to you at first, you may find you have some wonderful conversations with older people, and gain some insight both about their lives and about your own. This is just one example of the numerous ways you can help others and explore your own boundaries, and even find skills and motivation you did not know you possessed.
It can give give you experience in your chosen field
If you are applying for a job, or a college degree program, in which you do not have a lot of experience, volunteering in a position related to your field can get you miles ahead of other applicants to give you the required experience and help you reach your dreams.
Say you have aspirations of becoming a teacher. Volunteering with children, either as a mentor, tutor for disadvantaged kids or adolescents or at a summer camp, can help you both to apply for a degree program in education, or to get a teaching position once your education is complete.
If you wish to work with special needs children or adults, volunteering as an aid at an organization that focuses on these individuals can give your resume a running start when applying to these positions.
Both employers and educational institutions look at volunteer work very positively, and if your resume shows that you have been active in your community, you will likely have a much better shot.
Whatever reason you choose, volunteering is truly an exercise in compassion, and can bring boundless positivity into the lives of the people helped by your chosen organization, as well as to you. You may even see improvements in your mental and physical health.
Compassion builds character, and if you’ve got the time, or can make the time, there is no reason not to give it a try.
-The Alternative Daily