Volunteering is a way of life

Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
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Take a moment and think if no one volunteered. What would your community look like? If there was a fire who would volunteer to come and put it out? If your child needed extra help reading in school, who would volunteer to help them? Our way of life really relies on volunteerism.    Volunteering gives you an opportunity to change people's lives, including your own. If you're feeling frustrated or overwhelmed by the news of a disaster, volunteering to help can be a great way to cope. Lynetta Cleveland and Jan Thompson identified volunteer motivation as "helping the environment and promoting community betterment". If you'd like to support a cause, but can't afford to donate money, you can always donate your time instead.  Helping others in need is such an important part of the American way of life that many high schools require their students to spend a certain number of hours completing community service (volunteering) time in order to graduate.    Think about the following before you select a group to volunteer for:    Find what's right for you. What are your interests or passions? Find a way to weave your passions into a volunteer opportunity. For example, if you love animals, volunteer with the local animal shelter.    Find what fits your schedule. After you have indentified your interests, you need to decide how much time you have to volunteer. Some organizations have long and short term volunteer jobs. You might want to volunteer, but you know your family has a busy schedule. If this is your situation, short term positions would better fit into your schedule. You might find a way to volunteer in places where your family is involved. Consider volunteering for a child's youth group or as an assistant coach.    Expand your mind. Volunteering is also a great way to learn a new skill or be involved in an organization you have little knowledge about. It will develop a new understanding and appreciation of the people you are helping out, while also developing an appreciation for those who volunteer to help your child or family.    Feel Great. When you are volunteering, you are making a difference for someone. When you have this experience, it really makes you feel good. When people depend upon you, it can change the way you look at yourself. Volunteering also helps us get a new perspective on our lives. Our lifestyles really can burden us with our busy daily schedules, but volunteering can help you focus on others that need your talents.    Look Good. Volunteering can be put on a résumé and other transcripts. Many employers look for people with volunteering experience. They feel that volunteering helps you on the job and as a business, they like to be connected with the community. There are many places to volunteer. Check local places like hospitals, libraries, nursing homes, schools, and youth serving organizations like 4-H, chamber of commerce or even city government. There are many places that need your talents.    Adapted from Brian McNeill, U of MN Extension, Volunteering a Way of Life; Source Lynetta Cleveland and Jan Thompson (2007, February) Extension Education and volunteer service. Journal of Extension, February 2007, Volume 45 Number 1.