It has been said that the giving of one’s time to others is the best gift one can give. Life is short and we all die, so time is of the essence. Time can be seen, to some people, as being more valuable than anything else. This notion extends to volunteering for an organization, or for anything, without being paid. People volunteer in many ways – in their children’s schools, at their local church, at nursing and retirement homes, in hospitals, at community events, at museums and libraries. All across the board, people give their time to others in a number of ways – and in a number of forms and methods, as well.
But the questions “Why do people volunteer? And what do they get out of it?” are certainly of value. Of course, some people are required to volunteer. It may be part of their academic curriculum; some judges require offenders to do community service as part of their sentence, and some people volunteer because it helps their careers having real-world experience with doing a trade or being in a particular setting. In some ways, an internship is kind of like volunteering – the work is done free, but the tradeoff is an experience.
Nonetheless, people are helping others even when they don’t have to. They do it because it is important to them to help a cause, lend a helping hand or support an organization in need. There is so much to get out of it. For one, it never feels bad to volunteer. Volunteering, doing something selfless for someone else, evokes this feeling of well-being and satisfaction. While the main motivation usually isn’t to feel good, it certainly has that effect. It’s very refreshing to volunteer, to maybe spend time talking to elderly people at a nursing or retirement home. You make them feel better, and give them affection and attention – since, after all, one’s time is the most important thing one can give another – and it makes that person volunteering to feel better as well. Volunteering benefits a person for another very important reason, too: it helps the volunteer forget about their own problems for a while because they have to concentrate on somebody else’s problems. It’s very refreshing, the act of volunteering.
Also, because volunteering involves people, it encourages socializing, networking and friend-making. People who help others are likely to meet an array of people they may have not otherwise have met if not for giving their time to an organization, person or cause. This helps with career networking, too, or meeting other people who know others who have job openings, opportunities for consultants, or with curiosities in doing business or building partnerships. Volunteering brings unlikely people together, as well as likely people together, too. Some best friends and spouses have likely even been brought together through volunteering.
It’s easy to avoid volunteering. It’s easy to claim too many responsibilities and time constraints, work, stress and other obligations. But volunteering is for everyone, and every single person can give 20 or 30 minutes to an hour of their time a few days a month. Volunteering is so refreshing that giving time to another person seems to give the volunteer a feeling of ease, a feeling of doing good, that it basically restarts their energy clock, increasing their optimism and feeling of productivity. In many ways, volunteering seems to add to the clock rather than take away from it. It’s mutually beneficial to all parties included.
Also, volunteering – as with any endeavor where people come together for a common goal – creates the feeling of ownership among other volunteers, like they are part of something bigger than themselves, part of a team where the individuals only make up a whole. Once again, volunteering is about people – people working with other people to help people in some way or another. That is what matters, and that is what is at the very core of why volunteering is needed and will always exist. Helping people matters.
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