Benefits of Volunteering
By Ashlee Williman | 06/11/2019
Are you looking to learn a new skill, become more connected in your community, or engage with others? Whatever your reason may be, volunteering could be a great option for you! Volunteers are crucial to many organizations, as they provide fresh, new ideas, cost savings to the organization, and share knowledge, expertise and experiences with staff and other volunteers. So why not give back and gain something in return? Check out these benefits of volunteering:
1. Reducing social isolation
Research studies continue to show the importance of remaining active and engaged as we age. A study published by Perspectives on Psychological Science found “the health effects of prolonged isolation are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.” These findings highlight the importance of getting out and remaining active, and volunteering can be an avenue for achieving this.
2. Connecting with different generations
Volunteer opportunities can include mentoring at a local school, reading to preschool children, serving lunches to older adults or leading an art class at a senior center, just to name a few. These volunteer positions can give us the chance to work with a vast array of generations. Through these roles, we will be able to positively influence and shape the lives of others by providing opportunities for new and expanded learning, increasing self-esteem, meeting basic needs and adding joy to the recipient’s day.
3. Giving back to the community
We all have talents, skills, previous work experience or gifts we can share with others. Are there community issues you are passionate about? Do you enjoy working with children or love animals? We should identify what we enjoy and start our volunteer search at agencies that support these interests. Volunteering can provide us with the opportunity to put these skills to use, all while helping others.
4. Creating new support networks
As we age, our social and personal networks change. This can be a result of retiring from a job, having reduced contact with coworkers or clients or suffering the loss of a loved one. These changes might leave us with a void in our lives to fill. Volunteering can be a great opportunity to connect with new individuals and organizations, which can allow us to create new friendships and support networks.
If you are interested in volunteering, start by visiting a local school, faith-based community, social service or health care agency, seniors care organization or volunteer agency to inquire about volunteer opportunities in your community. You can also use sites like Volunteer Match or AARP’s volunteer search to find opportunities in your area. The gift of volunteering will not only benefit those you assist, but may also prove to be rewarding to you!