Whether you’re currently out of work and looking to add to your resume, or simply want to find fulfilling and rewarding ways to help out around your community, volunteering is a great option that you can get started with immediately.
No matter your location, there are likely boundless volunteer opportunities available, including those at your local libraries, food kitchens, churches, school districts, or charitable organizations.
Those are just some of the many groups that are in constant need of volunteers, says Mychael Willon, a retired educator and superintendent who continues to serve numerous local PTAs in varied roles. Mychael is also an avid volunteer himself and believes that being an active member of your community is vital for its health and success, as well as for your own personal development.
The Many Benefits Of Volunteering
While volunteering is often considered selfless work and a great benefit to the community, Mychael is quick to point out that the person volunteering gets just as much out of the arrangement by staying involved and active.
Volunteering provides a myriad of opportunities for testing out various types of work, which could help you pinpoint work you love that could guide you towards a future career if you aren’t retired. It can also allow you to develop useful skills that could prove beneficial in your personal life or help you work towards a role in a specific field.
Doing volunteer work is also great from a psychological and health standpoint. It’s been shown to confer several long-term benefits such as lowering stress and boosting self-esteem and happiness levels. Volunteering accomplishes those feats by providing a sense of purpose and connection that is lacking in many people’s lives.
That’s particularly true of retired seniors, who derive some of the most powerful physical benefits from volunteering. They live longer, healthier lives and reduce their risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, seniors who volunteered just one hour of their time per week had a 144% reduced risk of developing dementia than those who didn’t.
Volunteering is also an effortless way to meet new people, make friends, and grow your list of professional contacts, which could open up new opportunities for you in the future.
Volunteering could also be just the excuse you desperately need to get out of the house during the ongoing COVID-19 lockdowns and allow you to engage with your community again, practicing social distancing and following the advice of our health professionals.
Getting Started With Volunteering
To get started, Mychael recommends performing a short exercise to uncover your main motivation(s) for volunteering. The list could include some of the following:
- Having opportunities to socialize
- Being able to acquire useful skills
- Trying something completely new
- Working with people from a different culture
- Improving your community
- Finding opportunities that align with your interests and hobbies
Next, consider some of the additional factors that could play a role in which volunteer opportunities might make the most sense for you to pursue. Those factors could include:
- How much time you can devote to volunteering
- How much travel you’re willing or able to do
- Whether you’re willing to work with children and/or animals
- How much of a leadership role you’re willing to take on
- Whether you possess some of the skills or traits required of a volunteer position
By completing those tasks you should have a good understanding of the types of volunteer work that you would find most fulfilling and which your skills are well suited to.
How To Find Volunteer Positions
With that information in mind, you can begin seeking out volunteer opportunities using a wealth of available resources. One of the most robust is VolunteerMatch.org, which has connections with nearly 130,000 nonprofits and listings for close to 4 million volunteer opportunities.
Some of the top causes that can be supported through the platform include health and medicine, education and literacy, human rights, animals, hunger, women, homelessness, and the environment.
Listings can be searched by city or opportunity, and though the platform is U.S-based, listings can be found for positions worldwide. There are more than 650,000 virtual volunteering opportunities available, which could allow you to remotely help out an organization in need (some of those opportunities nonetheless require you to be based locally).
Other platforms and organizations that feature large listings of volunteer opportunities include The United Way, Habitat for Humanity, The American Red Cross, Do Something, Idealist, Feeding America, Just Serve, GivePulse, volunteer.gov, and the U.S Peace Corps, which offers overseas volunteering opportunities.
Local job boards, classified sites, and newspapers can also be referenced for volunteer listings. Consider using matchmaker organizations like Get Volunteer Jobs which can help guide you through the process.
Finally, before committing to any volunteer position, Mychael encourages prospective volunteers to make sure the opportunity is the right fit for them by asking questions about what their role will be, what kind of training they may need, how often and how long they’ll be expected to volunteer for, and who they’ll be working with.
By ensuring you find the ideal fit, you will gain the greatest personal satisfaction from your volunteering role and serve your community with determination and passion.
If you are interested in even more lifestyle-related articles and information from us here at Bit Rebels, then we have a lot to choose from.