Did you know that April is National Volunteer month? According to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 62.6 million people volunteered at least once between September 2012 and September 2013, which was the lowest rate since 2002. Many people say they are too busy to volunteer. Or, they can’t find something they want to do, or don’t realize just how many opportunities are out there.
Why volunteer? Aside from the very obvious reason of helping others or some cause, there are many benefits that you get from volunteering. I have been an active community volunteer for a long time and feel that I’ve gotten back so much more than I have given. Here are just some of the benefits I have received from volunteering.
You make friends with people who share the same interests. When you volunteer or work with someone who supports the same cause, or has the same passion for something as you do, you develop a stronger connection to them.
It is good for your emotional health. Not only does helping others or working to make things better make you feel good, volunteering gives you a sense of purpose which can make you feel better about yourself and more positive about your life.
You can keep your skills sharp by using them in a productive and important way. Volunteering provides more opportunities to use your skills for something you really believe in without the risk of losing your job. It gives you the chance to see if it’s an organization or a field you might want to pursue professionally.
You can learn something new. Whether new skills, or learning what an organization does, you never know what you might learn from volunteering. Many volunteer positions provide extensive training and can lead to a new hobby or interest, or even a new career. For example, you might learn all about art or local history while volunteering as a museum or historical society docent. If you are tired of your desk job, you can get your outdoor fix while planting a community garden or volunteering at a local botanic garden, and you might even find yourself a new horticultural career.
You can connect with your community. If you are feeling lonely, or want to know your community better, volunteering is a great opportunity. You also get to know other community organizations and how they all fit together.
I’d love to hear what volunteering has done for you, so please share your experiences in the comments section.
If you don’t already volunteer and you’d like to make a difference, check out Volunteer Match to find an organization your own community.