Helping others helps you too
Perhaps one of the most unexpected things about volunteering is how it makes the volunteer feel. It’s usually pretty easy to see how volunteerism benefits others—boxes of donated canned goods filling up food bank shelves, the smile on a senior’s face when a hot meal arrives at their door, children laughing and playing on sports teams coached by dedicated parents.
But the flip side to all that goodness is how good it makes you feel to give your time and energy to a charity, cause or organization you care about. According to Helpguide.org, volunteering has some pretty impressive benefits that include:
- Helping you make new friends and contacts
- Increasing your social and relationship skills
- Increasing self-confidence
- Combating depression
- Helping you stay physically healthy
- Providing possible career experience
- Teaching you valuable job skills
National Volunteer week falls during the week of April 6, so now is a great time to think about the ways you can change the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in your community—and your own life too!
Before you dive in, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I have any specialized skills that might lend themselves to charitable work? Can you write, drive, knit or crochet, tutor, do accounting work, or offer your skills as a photographer or general laborer? Are you good with kids, seniors or animals? Are you comfortable in hospitals or nursing homes? Think about the things you already enjoy doing and find out if a local charity has a need for someone with your particular skill set.
- How much time can I afford to give to volunteer work? Be realistic about your availability and the commitment you’re willing and able to make. If you know you can’t give a set number of regular hours, then options like mentoring, tutoring or writing grant proposals might not be for you. Look into volunteer work with short-term commitments instead, like helping out at a charity race, serving Thanksgiving dinner at a homeless shelter or making cookies at your local Ronald McDonald House.
- Who else might enjoy volunteering with me? Volunteering with friends and family members is a great way to strengthen your relationships and help others at the same time. It’s also a fantastic way to get children or grandchildren focused on the bigger world around them and thinking about the needs of folks right in their own backyard. The more the merrier, so ask if anyone wants to join you!
- Who can I help? Getting started can be as simple as calling your child’s school, your place of worship, a local seniors home—or even asking around at work—to find out if there is a need for any volunteer work to be done. You can also search for other volunteer opportunities in your community visiting volunteeringinamerica.gov and www.volunteermatch.org.
- How can Foresters help? Visit com to look for a list of volunteer opportunities in your community and to find out more about how to apply for a Foresters Community Grant. With funds from Foresters, you can support a charity of your choice by organizing a community activity for your family and other Foresters members. It might be a Birthday Bags activity or a Park Clean-Up activity—or something you come up with all on your own, based on the needs you see in your own community.
Whatever you decide to do, know that you’ll be making a big difference in a lot of lives, including your own!
410871 CAN/US (04/15)