Whether you choose to volunteer individually or through your place of employment, giving back to your community is one of the most impactful things you can do for not only the people you serve but also yourself. There are endless service opportunities at every level, from your local community center to global charitable organizations, and each offers countless benefits in addition to the knowledge that you’ve made a difference in someone’s life.
1. Help Others
Offering your expendable time or resources to those in need can have a lifelong impact on the communities you serve. There are plenty of ways to contribute, including monetary donations or supply drives, if you aren’t able or prefer not to offer your physical labor. Community centers such as the Sullivan Community Space offer multiple paths for volunteering so you can find the best fit for you and your community.
2. Make Connections
Volunteering provides the perfect excuse to move outside of your usual circle and meet people from all walks of life. Expanding your horizons introduces you to unfamiliar but necessary perspectives and allows you to grow your network and your outreach. You can explore ways to collaborate with community organizers on both a personal and professional level.
3. Learn New Skills
Life’s demands often make it difficult to find time to learn new skills or improve existing ones. Use your volunteer time to your advantage, and find an organization whose needs align with your areas of knowledge or interest. If learning to build a home or plant trees isn’t quite your thing, consider the soft skills you’ll gain from interacting with diverse groups in variable environments.
4. Experience New Adventures
Like the Sullivan Community Space About Us page, many community centers explain that volunteering isn’t just business; it’s a way of life. You may find that volunteering takes you to new places, whether that’s just down the road or to a distant continent, and opens up to you a new path in life that you otherwise would have never thought to explore.
5. Boost Your Resume
Even if you are secure in your job, boosting your resume is important if you wish to grow. Many professionals possess the same education or experience with few features that differentiate them from competitors, but those who demonstrate a commitment to the betterment of society stand out to employers. Substantive volunteer work suggests that you are motivated, hard-working, and driven by a need to leave things better than they were when you arrived. Unlike a degree or work experience, these qualities can be hard to find, so don’t discount the value of the soft skills you develop from interacting with diverse communities and varied environments.
6. Improve Your Mental Health…
Science suggests that putting a smile on someone else’s face can actually have the same effect on you. Helping others makes you feel good about yourself in a way that few other things can, as it gives your life meaning beyond the day-to-day grind. In addition to increased happiness, volunteering can also increase your self-esteem and confidence, as it gives you purpose and highlights your value to the world.
7. … and Your Physical Health
If better mental health doesn’t incentive you to volunteer, consider the impact volunteering has on your physical health. Depression and anxiety can have physical effects on the body, so improving your mental health actually makes you a healthier person overall. Volunteering can get you out of the house and encourage you to move your body, especially as it is often done during down time that would otherwise be contributed to passive hobbies such as watching tv or playing a video game.
You can help community organizations build a better society while simultaneously advancing your personal and professional circumstances. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of people and places in need, so you can be sure that no matter what kind of volunteer work you do, you are doing your part to make the world a better place.
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