Why volunteer?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

If you're like most people, you're busier than you'd like to be. There are so many demands on our time that we have to carefully weigh the pros and cons of each new opportunity.

If you've been thinking about volunteering, but not sure if you should make service a priority, please consider these benefits to you as a volunteer, as well as to your community:

Volunteering provides health benefits to the volunteer

Everyone knows that volunteering can have a significant positive impact on the community. But perhaps lesser known is that research shows a strong correlation between volunteering and health. Those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, improved physical and mental health, and greater life satisfaction. There is a growing body of evidence that indicates volunteering enhances a personal sense of purpose and accomplishment, resulting in higher levels of happiness and self-esteem, a sense of control over life, and lower rates of depression.

Volunteering connects you with others

Volunteering allows you to connect with others to make your community a better place in which to live. You meet new people, expand your network, and improve your social skills, which is particularly important for young volunteers. One of the best ways to make new friends and strengthen existing relationships is to commit to a shared activity together. Volunteering also strengthens your ties to the community and broadens your support network, exposing you to people with common interests, community resources, and fulfilling activities.

Volunteering can advance your career

If you're considering a new career, volunteering can help you get experience in your area of interest and meet people in the field. Even if you're not planning on changing careers, volunteering gives you the opportunity to practice skills used in the workplace, such as teamwork, communication, problem solving, project planning, task management, and organization. For college-bound young people, volunteering is a great way to build resumes and enhance scholarship applications.

Volunteering makes you feel good!

It's been said that there is no such thing as pure altruism because it's impossible to do something good for someone else without feeling good yourself. Researchers have referred to this as the "helpers' high", which is similar to the high that runners feel after a workout. Helpers' high is defined as a euphoric feeling, followed by a longer period of calm, experienced after performing a kind act. The physical sensation is a result of the release of endorphins causing a feeling of improved emotional well-being and sense of self-worth that in turn reduces stress and improves the health of the helper.

We hope we've convinced you that volunteering is worth your time and effort. If you're not sure how to get involved in a volunteer activity, please check out the Clay County Volunteer Network web site, www.volunteerclaycounty.com, or call 712-580-IVOL for information about volunteer opportunities in your community.

"Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."

-- Martin Luther King Jr.

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