Everyone Should Volunteer
4 Reasons Why You Should Volunteer.
(and no, it shouldn’t just be for service hours)
Do you remember those surveys in school that would tell you what job field you should work in? No matter how many times I have taken those surveys, I have managed to fall under careers that are service oriented (AKA careers that change the world, but are highly underpaid). It should be no surprise to me that I always received those results. After all, since childhood I enjoyed volunteering and helping others.
As a college student, I really started to get involved as a volunteer. I joined an environmental organization called Love Not Litter and eventually became a Co-President of the group. We spent our Friday mornings picking up trash around campus and on the local roads.
I also decided to branch out even more as a volunteer. My biggest passion in life, hands down, are animals. So, I applied to become an animal shelter volunteer. I spent most of my Saturday and Sunday mornings and afternoons taking out the dogs and cats at the shelter. I wanted to socialize them so they could become more adoptable. I wanted to help them get out their energy. I can’t imagine how scary it must be to live in a cage for days and have no idea what is going on.
On my graduation day, I even took my mom and sister to the shelter so I could volunteer one last time before moving back home. It was so heartbreaking to leave because I felt as though the animals needed me there. After a few years of living at home, I decided I needed to volunteer again. So now I currently volunteer at my local animal shelter.
I also foster dogs through Society of Humane Friends Rescue and volunteer as a Summer camp counselor at Camp Dream (a fun camp for people with disabilities).
Even with all that volunteer experience, I constantly feel the need to do more. You might be thinking, “why?” Besides the obvious, there are a few reasons why you should volunteer.
Even though the idea behind volunteering is to give to others, a big reason as to why I volunteer is because it’s rewarding for myself. You realize how great your life is when you are able to give to those less fortunate than yourself. Sometimes we take simple things like our limbs, the capability to walk, having a home, or not worrying about where our next meal is coming from for granted. Volunteering allows you to step back from all the chaos and ridiculous worries of life. When you are helping others, the Super Bowl game, the minor scratch on your car, the poor quality sandwich you bought, and social media don’t matter anymore. You start to look at the basics in life and appreciate the fact that you have those basics.
You Make New Friends
Volunteering opens the door to new friendships. Plus, those friends might have some of the same personality traits as you. For example, volunteering at the animal shelter I have met so many other people with a heart for saving animals. We can talk forever about our pets and see value in animals’ lives. It’s a great feeling to connect with other people especially on a topic you are passionate about. I don’t know about you, but I really can’t stand being around selfish people. So volunteering allows me to be around people who care for others and want to make this world a better place. There is truly so much crap (for lack of a better word) happening in this world. So when you see that there ARE good people who care, it’s heartwarming.
“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they have the heart.”
Your Impact is Everlasting (and maybe even contagious)
Volunteerism is like a circle. Your acts of kindness never go to waste. You put good energy into this world and because of that, others and yourself receive that same energy. Since I volunteer at the animal shelter, I’ll give you an example. I was at PetSmart helping with shelter dog adoptions one day and as I was leaving, I walked by a coworker. She told me that her family was looking for another dog so that their current dog would have a playmate.
Before I left, the animal control officers and I were upset that this AMAZING adult, black, pitbull had to head back to the shelter again. I mean, this dog was so calm and gentle with children that she met. She was just an overall perfect human companion. So, not thinking much of it, I told my coworker about this awesome pit. I then took her and her husband over to where the adoptions were taking place and guess what?! THEY ADOPTED THE DOG! I almost left PetSmart feeling sad because this perfect dog was overlooked because of her age, color, and (of course) breed. Instead, I left with so much joy, and so did my coworker and her family!
I periodically get text messages with adorable pictures of Georgia (the dog’s new name) or see posts on Facebook or hear stories while we’re at work. This makes my heart feel like a big ball of cotton candy! Because I am able to help animals get homes they deserve, the impact is continuous and creates a ripple effect. A family adds in a new member, the dog is safe from euthanasia, and now a spot opens up in the shelter. When you see how much one little act can make such a big difference in so many lives, it motivates you to continue.
Plus, you might inspire someone else to go out and become a volunteer just because of your kind actions. For example, Tony Robbins has a charity to feed families in need. His inspiration came from the fact that as a child, a man provided his family with a Thanksgiving meal when they couldn’t afford it themselves. This unknown man did one simple act of kindness that has inspired Tony Robbins to now feed millions of families in need. All it takes is ONE simple gesture!
“When you have more than you need, build a bigger table – not a higher fence.”
You Find Purpose
I believe that a lot of the world’s problems would be solved if more people volunteered. When you volunteer, you feel needed in society. You feel as though it is your duty to help in that particular area. You start to have the mindset of, “if I don’t do it, then who will?”If people have a sense of belonging and purpose in this world, they are more likely to respect it. It’s harder to be a villain in society when you know there are so many others relying on you to make a difference.
The rescue I foster for also has a program called Operation Second Chance-Jail Dogs Program. Dogs and cats are rescued from the shelter and are paired with an inmate at the local jail. The inmates then train, socialize, and take care of these homeless animals until they are adopted. How incredible and smart is that? The inmates now have a purpose, a new skill while the dog or cat becomes more adoptable and avoids the death sentence. These inmates feel important and have a purpose each day with those animals.
I’m not saying volunteerism will cure the world’s problems, but it sure is a great start.
I encourage you to get out there and volunteer. Don’t make excuses and say you’ll do it later. Start now. Start this week. Do something! I don’t see how you could ever regret it.
I’d love to hear about your volunteer experiences, so please share!