There is an activity that has been sweeping the nation over the past few years: volunteerism. It provides many companies free labor; however, it provides those who partake in the activity an opportunity to benefit from it as well. There is an adage that says, “Time is money”; this is a true saying, yet it should not deter anyone from volunteering his or her time. For those who have any time to spare (whether it be an hour every day, an hour a week, or even an hour a month), volunteering has its benefits. Here are some good reasons to volunteer.
Volunteering is a good résumé-builder
For students who want something to be able to put on their résumé but don’t have too much time to put into a job, volunteering on a regular basis is one of the best ways to improve your job skills. Volunteering does not have to be picking up trash on the side of the road in a group setting (although this is one form of volunteering). Volunteering can be done by feeding or walking animals in an animal shelter, being a tour guide at a museum, or helping to tear down or rebuild homes that were destroyed in storms (such as the relief efforts that were done after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Louisiana). Also, another way to volunteer is to be a tutor through a reading program at a school.
Volunteering can build up your self-esteem
By helping others, you will start to feel better about yourself. You will also get to hear other people’s stories and life experiences if your volunteer position involves interacting with the public. I will never forget one of the days that I was in New Orleans helping with the hurricane relief. It was a rainy day, so we did not get to do much with painting the house that day. The house’s owner was there with us, telling us about the day that the hurricane had hit New Orleans. Although hearing the survivor’s story was hard to do, being able to empathize with him was possibly one of the greatest experiences I encountered during that trip.
Volunteering can be a great networking tool
While volunteering, you are doing yourself a favor: you are meeting people who know other people. Once you start getting to know people with whom you volunteer, you will find that you may have something in common. Perhaps you are looking for a job and the other person knows of a job opening. Or perhaps the other person is in your field of work and can mentor you in your profession. Whatever comes out of volunteering, remember that the purpose of volunteering is not to network; it is to help an organization. Networking just happens to be a good outcome from volunteering.
Volunteering may let you meet your future spouse
Another great benefit of volunteering is the opportunity to meet new people. You can meet people your age that share the same interests or hobbies. Who knows? Your future spouse may be out there volunteering his or her time, and you could meet him or her this way. It would give you a lot to talk about as well as give you something to do together while you’re dating. If you are already dating or are married, this would also be a great activity to do as a couple.
Other ideas for volunteering activities
— Secretary at a non-profit organization
— Front desk clerk at a gymnasium
— Gardener at a local community garden
— Coach of a sports team
— Worker at a concession stand at a baseball stadium
— Ticket collector at a concert
If you find that you have spare time, it would be a good idea to volunteer-not only because of the good benefits received, but also because it is something that helps other people. However, the benefits received from volunteering do outweigh the cost of time in volunteering in the long run. Your assignment: go to a website about volunteering in your city and volunteer a minimum of one day a month if you have time. If you do not have time, find a way to volunteer once. There are many ways to volunteer. I am providing links to national organizations that have opportunities for volunteers so that you can get started.