Volunteering: Its Importance and Benefits

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Volunteering: Its Importance and Benefits

A picture of me volunteering for Cookies for a Cause at the DuPage County Fair.

A picture of me volunteering for Cookies for a Cause at the DuPage County Fair.

A picture of me volunteering for Cookies for a Cause at the DuPage County Fair.

A picture of me volunteering for Cookies for a Cause at the DuPage County Fair.

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As people commonly say, “To give is to receive”. The act of helping others is a way to help yourself. Some find volunteeringas a chore while others just do it in order to gain service hours. But what is the importance of volunteering and what exactly are the benefits?

With busy schedules, it can be very difficult to find time to volunteer. Many people love the idea yet cannot find the time.

Some St. Ed’s students recalled their personal accounts of volunteering. Senior Bianca Ventimiglia stated “Through volunteering, I learned that pursuing a job in the medical field is what I really wanted. Because I volunteered at a hospital, I began to understand what the community does for us and their sacrifices. The thing I enjoyed the most, is how I made many people’s day and got to experience what working at the hospital really consisted of and the effort you have to put into working there.”

Senior Jlana von Rohr explained, “I’ve learned that I felt more accomplished than ever because it felt like I was making a big difference.”

Furthermore, senior Ian Diamond said “I recommend volunteering at sports camps, school events, or any openings you find in your community.”

Based on these accounts, volunteering has many benefits. According to psychologist Jeanne Segal, research has shown that volunteering can help fight off the effects of stress, anxiety, depression, and anger. For example, if you have a love for pets and they have a calming effect on your body, then volunteering with animals might relieve some of your stress. Research has also discovered by measuring brain activity, that helping others delivers an immense amount of pleasure to the brain. Not only does it boost pleasure, but it also boosts self-confidence. Making a positive change in the community or for others, establishes an inborn sense of accomplishment, giving you more pride. Along with all of this, volunteering also provides a sense of purpose. For example, sometimes life gets the best of people and they forget the true meaning of happiness, so volunteering can help you find a new meaning of happiness.

Along with personal benefits, there are many communal benefits from volunteering as well. It allows you to make connections in your community and get to know new people. This in turn can also advance your career, allowing you to get experience in a field of interest. Organization, communication, problem solving, and teamwork are all skills that can be established during volunteering. These skills will get you prepared for your work life ahead and make you stand out in future applications.

So what is the first step to volunteering? First, you need to find an opportunity to devote your time to. You can either choose one organization and devote most of your time there or you can choose multiple organizations, splitting your time between each. Usually you can apply online or send in an application through the mail. There are websites such as VolunteerMatch that make it easy to find and apply to organizations. Here are a couple of places to check out for opportunities

  • Libraries
  • Hospitals
  • Animal shelters
  • Rescue organizations
  • Soup Kitchens
  • Local churches
  • Food pantries

The next step involves your choice whether or not you want to make the commitment. Looking at your schedule and finding some free days can be perfect opportunities to make a positive change. Sacrificing something not as important may need to happen in order for you to make more time open. In the long run, the sacrifice will pay off.

The last step is of course to have fun in what you do and make sure you have an interest in volunteering at a specific organization of choice. If you don’t have any urge to keep attending, that will eventually lead you to not get the full benefits of volunteering.