One great thing about volunteering is that it can connect you with people you may have never met and everyone involved can interact in very positive ways. While this creates individual benefits for everyone involved, volunteering also increases, improves and strengthens the social connections within a community, making it a better place to live.
The benefits of being connected
For volunteers, the personal, social and professional benefits are as numerous as there are opportunities to get involved, including:
- Develop new interests and hobbies
- Boost your overall level of motivation and sense of achievement
- Build your self-esteem and self-confidence
- Increase your social support and professional networks
- Improve your career options— add volunteer activities to your resume; learn about and experience other jobs and careers
- Enhance your social and communication skills
- Be a positive example for your children, your family and your community
Volunteering also creates health benefits, such as:
- Lower rates of depression
- Reduced incidence of heart disease
- Help manage stress and anxiety
- Lower blood pressure
- Promote a sense of well-being and greater overall life satisfaction.
Find your volunteer activity
Volunteering opportunities are everywhere and getting started as a volunteer is easy. With so many choices available for volunteer activities, all you really need to do is to figure out what appeals to you most. Remember, for this to be a rewarding experience, and one you'll have no trouble committing to, it needs to be something you'll enjoy doing, that will challenge you, and will be fulfilling.
To help you focus and narrow down your search for a good fit, take a minute to complete the following statements:
1. How many hours per week are you willing to volunteer? _______ hours per week
2. What level of responsibility are you willing to commit? (For example, you can choose from junior level, intermediate level, senior level, and managerial level.)
_______ level of responsibility.
3. When it comes to volunteering, what’s most important to you? (For example, you may want to support a particular cause, your interests or favourite charity.)
4. What knowledge, skills and connections do you have to offer or what would you like to learn?
5. What places are you most interested in joining? (Tip: Use your imagination! Consider a seniors centre, hospital, library, sports team, church, after-school program, soup kitchen, nursing home, summer camp, community walking tour, museum, park, mentorship program, fundraising event, animal shelter and more):
One last word of volunteering advice:
Just as you would with a career choice, try to find an activity that is not too far from your home, find somewhere that’s a good fit for your personality and your approach to working. Talk to other volunteers and to the people working fulltime at the places that you’re considering. The right fit will maximize your efforts and maximize the benefits to yourself, the people you’re helping, and your community.