Benefits Of Volunteering And Participating In Volunteering Activities

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A person who performs a service willingly and without pay is how describes a volunteer. Volunteering has been a part of my life for many years. For the past five summers, I have spent my time serving at a place called Camp Barnabas. While at this camp I am paired with a camper with a disability. Throughout my time there I do my best to give said camper the best summer ever. All the while, the service that I am participating in is directly benefiting me. I met lifelong friends, I learned more about myself and where I belong, and above all it allowed me to solidify a career choice. Volunteering allows one to meet people from different backgrounds, grow as a person, and creates a pathway for one’s future; therefore, everyone should participate in it.

One of the biggest reasons one should volunteer is the opportunity that it provides to meet new people. To some, this may sound less than a positive opportunity. But, in reality, people in society are connecting and meeting with others everyday without even noticing it; which means without any anxiety either. Sites, where volunteering takes place, is often a safe space where people connect with strangers because everyone is there for the common goal of serving; meaning one already has something to bond over. Meeting new people is essential to life. One main thing this provides is new opportunities. In the article Get Lucky, Matthew Hutson explains the importance of new experiences. New experiences offer fresh opportunities, if one was to stay on the same path one’s entire life, then one would never know what lies on other paths. If one does not open themself up to meeting someone who knows what opportunities one could be passing up (Hutson). Hutson is saying for one to go out and gather new experiences, rather than sticking to the same routine, because one could be missing out on something life-changing. There are billions of people in the world, a large portion of which one does not know, that could grant opportunities not only personal but opportunities in terms of a career. When striving to get a job or further one’s career, knowing people is essential. Building ones network can determine what opportunities are presented. When one goes out of their way in an attempt to meet new people and expand their network the number of opportunities rises. One may share similarities with those that are within one's growing network, but other times they may not and this is also a great benefit of meeting new people. We all have the opportunity to live in such a diverse country and from the people, within it, we can learn so much. One may grasp a better understanding of life from the people that one may network with or go out of their way to meet. This is talked about in an article entitled the Benefits of Volunteering by Habitat for Humanity. In a summary, Habitat for Humanity explains that there are always more things to learn about the world and there are always more people to come alongside within society to help make a change. Volunteering allows one to make that change allowing one to create lifelong memories with unforgettable people. Habitat for Humanity is saying that there is an endless supply of people in the world that need help, one could help those people and learn about them and the life they lead while also growing a network of people and friends. Meeting people and growing ones network is a necessary aspect of life and an easy way to accomplish this is through volunteering.

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Another reason volunteerism should be more prevalent amongst people is that it allows for a lot of personal growth. For example, as mentioned before, one may get a better understanding of others lives, but one also stands to receive a re-examination of one’s own life. When volunteering one most commonly is serving someone less fortunate. This may cause one to look at the person that they are helping, then look at one’s own life and realize how good one has it in comparison. In the article Why We Should Volunteer by Volunteer Weekly, the connection of the real world to volunteering is presented. Volunteering helps us to not only get involved in real things happening in our world but also to realize just how real those things happening actually are. Volunteer Weekly also shares “It’s not something that happens to someone else, at someplace else; but it’s happening right in my backyard.” The author is conveying to the reader that when a person volunteers the things that person witnesses changes the way that the world is viewed because that person gains a clearer view of not only the world but also that person's life because one begins to realize how real situations of struggle actually are, allowing for a better understanding of how good one has it in one’s own life. Another example of the personal benefits volunteering offers is the sense of belonging one gains. The group that one volunteers with immediately creates a bond, such as a family. From this one gains a sense of belonging that one may have never experienced before. Going hand-in-hand with this, when one feels as though they belong, one feels like they matter and have purpose. When volunteering one has a job to do, a goal to meet, a family to help, or one of the many other ways volunteers serve. This gives one purpose not only in this situation but also in life. Volunteering offers an abundance of benefits to those that serve; therefore everyone should engage in it.

Even with the proven benefits of volunteering, some may argue a few reasons not volunteer. For instance, time; time is one of society's most precious commodities and we usually do not have enough of it. As a society “lack of time”, is seemingly one of our biggest excuses as it pertains to why one does not volunteer. It is true that we often do not have enough time in a day to do everything, but one can usually recognize that a lot of the time spent up in the day is on things like netflix, or social media. What is one was to take the time that they would have spent watching netflix and use that time to volunteer? Another reason posed by the other side to not volunteer is that the time spent volunteering is not meaningful. So, after struggling to make time to get out and serve, the experience was meaningless. In order to get around this situation one must find volunteer opportunities that suit them. This will in turn make the experience more meaningful because one will actually care about what they are doing. If one signed up to read to children and one hates children the experience is going to be dreadful, but if one signs up to read to the elderly and one has a special place in their heart for the elderly, then the experience will be meaningful. In an article, 3 Reasons Why People Don’t Volunteer, Amy Yotopoulos offers an important statistic to the debate: “90% of people want to volunteer, but only 1 out of 4 people follow through on that want. Research proves that people who volunteer have improved physical health, elevated mood, less depression, better relationships, and decreased loneliness.” Yotopoulos is saying that the benefits far outweigh any possible opposing viewpoint that one may have and that everyone should follow through and participate in service. Although there are a few opposing viewpoints to volunteering, they are all situations in which one can find a way to easily adapt and prosper; therefore everyone should volunteer.

Finally, one of the hardest parts of volunteering: where to start. The first place to start is within one’s own mind. One must recognize that every volunteer opportunity is not for everyone. Author Christopher J. Gearon shares that message in his article: Find the Best Volunteer Fit. “The challenge for all volunteers is finding the best fit for themselves… Regardless of your tastes, temperament, or availability, a wide range of opportunities can be found, each offering its own rewards.” (Gearon). Gearon is saying, one must figure out what one is interested in and find service opportunities within that realm of interest. For example, mission trips are apart of the many ways one can volunteer. But, not everyone has an interest in serving outside of the country and that is ok. Even though your interests may be different than someone else’s, that does not make those interests any less valid. After realizing this one can begin to explore the world of volunteerism. A great place to start is church. If one is apart of a church family, then one should reach out to the pastor to find out what volunteer opportunities the church is involved in and if they need help. Churches, most commonly known for volunteering within mission trips, volunteer a lot locally. It could be the local food pantry, homeless shelter, or even a neighboring school. Some may feel not welcomed to come volunteer because one was not asked to come help, one is just showing up. Everyone is doing the same exact thing.

Groups that volunteer are often very random and diverse. So, when one joins the group everyone is very welcoming because everyone is their for the same cause. Some may also say that one should not volunteer because there is not enough information about volunteer opportunities. This is in fact not true, one must know where to look. For those that are not apart of a church family, there are other places to find opportunities to volunteer such as: through school, friends, or even credible websites of local places in ones town. Gearon explains that trial and error is a huge part of life especially when it comes to volunteering. (Gearon). This just means that it might take a few tries for one figure out which volunteer fit is best for him. In order to find out what type of volunteering one enjoys or if one even is fit to volunteer, one must to go out and experience it first-hand. (Gearon). Gearon is explaining to the reader that one could read and hear about all of the different ways to volunteer or even all of the reasons why one should volunteer, and yet one will only know for sure until he goes out and tries it for himself. It is fairly easy to find opportunities to serve the community once one knows his interests and actually looks for ways to go about serving; for this reason, everyone should get involved in volunteering.

To summarize, volunteering offers an abundance of benefits for said volunteer. Engaging in this practice allows one to meet new people, which in turn grows ones network, allows one to come out of the shell one has been stuck in, and it offers opportunities to grasp a better understanding of life and people outside of one’s regular realm. Volunteering also allows some personal benefits including: a gained sense of belonging, a re-examination of one’s life, and gives one purpose. Not every volunteer opportunity is for every person, but once one figures out his interests the process becomes easier and much more meaningful. One should not get discouraged if the first few service experiences are not what is expected or even enjoyed as much as one expected. As mentioned before, trial and error is all apart of the process and the outcome of figuring out one’s focal point of interest will be well worth it in the end. The service that one will be apart of not only affects him, but also his community and his future. A volunteer is a person who performs a service willingly and without pay. The world desperately needs people like that who care enough to go out and make a change; go out and be that person.

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