We’re all aware of the social and environmental benefits of being a volunteer. There are tons of causes that need our attention – from hunger, to animal cruelty, to education, to ocean health, and everything in between. We have endless opportunities to make a difference for others. However, the time we spend reaching out, doing good, and making an impact doesn’t just benefit the causes we choose, it helps us, too.
Here’s a bunch of great reasons to volunteer:
1. That warm fuzzy feeling.
The feelings of satisfaction we often get from being a volunteer can make us feel physically better, more energized, positive, and optimistic. Think about it. Have you ever walked away from community service thinking “I wish I had never done that?” Our guess is no.
2. New-found confidence.
Volunteering reminds us that we have the power to make a difference in real and immediate ways. It can also give us new skills (see below) and knowledge on important topics, which can make us feel more empowered and better about ourselves.
3. A positive distraction.
Getting out of our own heads and into the world can be an important break. Volunteering can give us a mental breather from our deadlines and responsibilities, and it can help us put things in perspective. Five hours of homework may seem like less of a problem when compared to hurricane destruction, homelessness, and other issues encountered through outreach work.
4. More friends.
Feel like your social scene could use a refresher? Community service helps us expand our social circles beyond the usual suspects. Importantly, since it brings people together around a common interest, the chances are high of finding like-minded friends.
5. Work experience.
Think about your volunteer work in terms of valuable career experience. Volunteering can take the forms of fundraising, marketing, working in customer service, and event planning, to name a few. While we may not be paid for the work we do in these areas, we are still gaining valuable skills that we can build on later and mention on our resumes.
6. Career knowledge.
Because volunteer positions usually last for a limited time, they let us explore career paths. We can use these experiences not just as a times to give back, but as times to explore likes and dislikes about certain types of positions and organizations.
7. New life connections.
That’s right, doing community service connects us with mentors and advocates who can help us throughout our careers. Make an impression when you’re volunteering, and you might just have a mentor (or recommender) for life!
There you have it. Looking for ways to volunteer? Check out some of these suggestions.