Lately, I’m feeling an overwhelming need to give back in some way. Maybe because of the current political climate, all the negative news or just feeling altruistic; whatever the reason, I decided to start looking for a place to volunteer.
This past weekend I attended an information session at The Women’s Center in Fort Worth. This center provides rape victim services, violence prevention and education, employment solutions and general counseling. Despite their name they provide services to women, men and children.
Through volunteer work you can make a real difference to the people, animals and organizations you serve, but volunteering also benefits you, the volunteer, in many ways as well.
- Make new friends, ones that have a common interest with you.
- Improve social and relationship skills
- Strengthen ties to your community and learn about neighborhood resources.
- Know about local activities and events
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Combat depression
- Provide one with a sense of purpose
- Boost confidence
- Improve your immune system
- Young adults and teens specifically benefit from a strengthening of self-worth and self-esteem
- For older individuals, helps to curb loneliness and keep them mentally stimulated and physically active.
- Proven to reduce symptoms for those with chronic illnesses
- Parents exposing their children to volunteer activities will be setting examples of compassion and empathy.
- Those looking to change careers, volunteer for an organization in the field you want to go into. This will give you a chance to see what that work looks like and puts you in contact with people that can help guide you and support you during your transition.
- High school or young adults benefit by learning treasured employment skills such as teamwork, communication, project planning, problem solving, task management and organization.
- Volunteer work is highly valued by college admissions and most employers
ASSESS WHAT KIND OF VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES WOULD APPEAL TO YOU
The first step in getting involved is to decide what you want to get out of volunteering. For example:
- Improve your neighborhood
- Meet people from a different background
- Be an advocate for someone in need
- Learn about a new career
- Support a favorite cause
- Share your skills with others
The next step and a very important one, is to realistically assess your schedule and decide how much time you can commit to an organization. Can you handle a long term commitment, like a year, or do you need a shorter one? Possibly just a one-time assignment? It’s not fair to leave an organization in the lurch, so be absolutely sure you can commit to what you say you can.
Don’t allow obstacles to hold you back from volunteering. For instance, if you don’t have transportation or are limited on time there are organizations that need help with phone calls, graphic design, and emails. All things you can do remotely. It may take a little longer to find an opportunity that matches your restrictions, but it’s worth pursuing to get those benefits.
WHERE TO LOOK
- Community theaters, museums, and monuments
- Libraries or senior centers
- Service organizations such as Lions Clubs or Rotary Clubs
- Local animal shelters, rescue organizations, or wildlife centers
- Youth organizations, sports teams, and after-school programs
- Historical restorations, national parks, and conservation organizations
- Places of worship such as churches or synagogues
- Online databases
- Any non-profit organization
After attending the information session, I decided to help them with scheduled events until I can go through their rape victim advocate training offered early next year.
If you already volunteer somewhere, share it in the comments below. Or if you are looking for a particular opportunity, share the details and we will brainstorm some ideas.
Finding my sense of purpose,