A Quick Look at Volunteering in America
Volunteering in America is a noble thing. It’s fun, it helps others, and it can make you feel good about yourself. But how does it affect your life? And why should you volunteer? Here are some of the benefits of volunteering that I’ve discovered over the years through my experiences with volunteering:
1) You get to meet new people. Volunteering is a great way to meet new people who have similar interests as you do! Whether it be at an event or on a committee, volunteering gives you opportunities to bond with others in your community. Many times there is also an orientation where everyone gets together so they can learn more about each other and what they want to do within their organization. You’ll definitely make some friends when this happens! One time my church was hosting its annual “Battle of the Bands” competition for middle school students, and I met one person who became very close friends with me throughout my high school career. There are many examples of volunteering creating friendships.
2) You get to learn new skills. Volunteering can often be a way for you to learn something new. A lot of times, if you’re volunteering for an organization that does something that is similar to what your career will be like (i.e., working in the medical field), then there will usually be training involved with the job. For example, one of my favorite volunteer opportunities is at my church’s hospital (it’s actually not really a “hospital” it’s more like a clinic). I got to learn how to make certain medications and work with patients one-on-one! It was so much fun! You can have this kind of experience too if you volunteer somewhere that does things that are related to your career path or just interests you personally!
3) You gain leadership experience. When I first started volunteering at my church, I had no idea what being on staff would look like or how it works or anything else about being on staff besides doing some service hours so I could graduate high school early (I’m getting ahead of myself here. I’ll explain more about that in another post). However, throughout my volunteering experiences I realized that I had gained quite a bit of leadership skills. When you’re on staff at an organization, it’s your job to help run things effectively and efficiently. You have to be organized and keep track of things, but you also have to know when to delegate responsibilities so everyone can do their part. For example, if there is a bake sale coming up for the organization you volunteer for, then it’s your job as head coordinator or coordinator or whatever title they give you to make sure everything runs smoothly with the bake sale! This includes organizing volunteers who will help out at the bake sale (i.e., asking people who will donate baked goods), making sure people are assigned tasks for setup/cleanup/tear down (if needed), communicating with other coordinators regarding how many items are needed from each food group or types of baked goods are needed (if any), etc. There are many different ways you can volunteer within an organization and gain leadership experience depending on what position they offer!
4) You become more well-rounded as a person. Volunteering is a great way to get your foot in the door of whatever organization you’re volunteering for. Sometimes volunteering leads to more opportunities within that organization! For example, if you volunteer at an animal shelter and you really like working with animals, then the organization might be able to offer more opportunities for furthering your involvement (i.e., becoming an official animal care intern). Not only does this give you more chances to work with animals, but it also gives you experiences that will help shape who you are as a person. There are many different experiences I had while on staff at my church’s hospital/clinic that helped me become comfortable talking in front of large crowds and helping sick people feel better. Even though I was just volunteering at this place, it gave me so much confidence in myself because I was “working” there! Volunteering is not just about doing service hours or meeting new people – it’s about learning how to navigate through situations and gain new skills all while having fun!
5) You get free stuff/discounted stuff/samples. Speaks for itself!
I hope this helped you understand the benefits of volunteering. If you haven’t volunteered before, I hope this inspired you to do so!