Do You Like To Volunteer?
I don’t. Not really. You might think that to be strange, with the title of this post being The Joy Of Volunteering, Why I Volunteer! It’s true though. Once I do it, I’m always glad that I did, but I don’t like the initial part of taking that step forward.
Here’s a scenario. I’m sitting in church, in a class, and the class leader announces that someone needs to have their lawn mowed. An elderly lady, who can’t do it anymore. The leader asks, “Who would like to volunteer to mow the lawn?”
I look around, and no one has raised their hand. Neither have I. It’s not that I hate mowing lawns, or that I’m just a selfish jerk. But, it’s been ingrained in me, from my years in the service, to refrain from volunteering.
After a few seconds of awkward silence, someone volunteers. Usually it’s the same person, or people, who always volunteer.
I know why they wait to volunteer. They want to give someone like me a chance to do my part. When I don’t, and no one else does, they step up.
Afterward I feel guilty for not stepping up myself. At least for a while.
There Are Actually Benefits From Volunteering
Here’s one – you get to go out and do something different, for someone else. You get to forget about yourself for a while. And usually your volunteer work is done with others, maybe people you haven’t associated with for a while and you can reconnect with them.
How does that help you? Sharing an activity with someone is a great way to bond with them, if you already know them. If you are volunteering with someone you don’t know yet, by the end of the day you will feel like old friends.
And we can all use more friends.
Many times while volunteering you come in contact with people that may be able to help you advance your career. New contacts can open doors.
Another one – volunteering can help reduce stress and anxiety. It can put you in a good mood and help you forget about your own worries and troubles for a while. It lets you focus on helping others.
If you are prone to depression, the contact with other people who are focused on helping someone else like you are can give you support and help you to center your life.
If you are shy or withdrawn, volunteering can help bring you out of your shell in a non-threatening way. You feel good helping others, and your self-confidence grown as you interact with others. You find yourself having a purpose in life. Some people do nothing but help others, for the feelings of well-being that they get.
OK, Now You Want To Volunteer. How Do You Get Started?
If you’re a churchgoer, it’s easy to start there. If not, service clubs such as Lions can help. Check with your community. City Hall sometimes posts volunteer opportunities.
Another good place to check is with a school Usually schools, especially elementary schools, need volunteers for a variety of activities.
I hate to mention them, but political organizations and campaigns are always looking for volunteers. Sorry. I’m jaded.
Other groups, such as conservationists provide volunteer opportunities.
And, don’t forget the youth organizations like Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. By the way, have they merged yet? Just asking.
Want Some Proof?
Here’s a website that lists 10 inspiring stories about volunteer experiences Check it out.
From my own experience, a couple of months ago I volunteered to spend a Saturday morning at the local soup kitchen, helping prepare a meal for the homeless people in our area.
When I arrived, I met six or seven other people already there, and a few more showed up after I got there.
I spent my time slicing vegetables, crushing garlic, peeling potatoes, and socializing with everyone there. The mood was happy and we were all smiling and laughing and helping each other get things done. It was a great time and the morning passed so quickly that we were done before we knew it.
I left feeling great and looking forward to the rest of the day.
That was in a group setting.
Here’s my latest volunteer effort.
Remember at the beginning of this post I mentioned the class leader in church asking for a volunteer to mow a widow’s lawn? Well, that actually just happened this past Sunday.
This time, I raised my hand to volunteer. And it wasn’t for just one widow’s lawn, it was for two of them.
It will be a solitary activity. No socializing. No jokes and banter. But at the end, I know I’ll feel great for helping out.
That’s the joy of volunteering.
You should try it.
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