Volunteering can be a rewarding experience for anyone of any age group, profession or passion. I have volunteered for educational organizations and even the Girl Scouts and found it to be one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Whether you’re trying to get school credit, gain experience or just make a difference in your community, your volunteer hours make a great impact.
Fill the Gap
Volunteers often fill gaps for organizations that can’t be filled by paid team members. Organizations that accept volunteers are sometimes small and on a tight budget, so your hours make a difference in lending a hand. The schools I volunteered with for after school programs could barely pay the certified staff for their time, so they greatly appreciated the community members who pitched in to help. If you’re interested in volunteering for a small organization, ask what departments need more helping hands. Sometimes you may be doing a job that you don’t feel is important, like sorting paperwork, but it makes a huge difference to the organization.
Another way volunteering makes an impact is in situations where you are a one-on-one volunteer, like Big Brothers Big Sisters or other mentoring programs. Some mentoring programs pair you with a child, others with an elderly person, veteran or even a person with disabilities. You develop a friendship with this person and can help them build their on skills. When I volunteered at my school, I got to work with students on their homework. Several students became my study partners on a regular basis and I had the opportunity to help them grow. If you are an outgoing person or looking to develop better personal skills, working one-on-one can be a great tool for your own growth, too. Seeing someone else succeed is a great feeling and you will make a lasting impact on their lives.
Possible Career Opportunities
Many who volunteer and want to continue with an organization may ultimately find employment within that organization. Jobs can open quickly and need to be filled by people with knowledge of the inner workings and day to day operations. Being available and always stepping in when needed can help your name get to the top of lists for those positions. If you’re in college, keeping in contact with places you have volunteered with can lead to recommendations that can get you a job. Putting your all into the position when you’re there can make a great impression that could help you improve your own career path.
Enrich Your Community
Organizations that ask for volunteers are often ones that make an impact on your community. From after school programs to animal shelters, they are well known in communities and have the ability to reach out. A local Girl Scout troop recently held an event to raise money for cancer research and called for volunteers to help run their event. Not only were the volunteers helping the girls develop skills and run their event smoothly, they were able to meet and talk to cancer survivors and their families, and also help spread awareness. Your reach does not extend only within the organization, but can give you tools to have a more local and global impact.
Volunteering has enriched my life as well as the lives of many of my friends and co workers. To start volunteering, call an organization you are passionate about and ask about opportunities. You may need to pass a background check or take training, but once you begin you will be able to start making an impact immediately. No matter your reasoning, you will be helping others of your own free will and showing them that you truly care.