There’s no question about it. Volunteering is good for you, it’s good for your community and it’s especially good for the cause you are serving. Most people become volunteers because it means they have the chance to make a difference in an area where someone or something needs help. For most people, volunteering is a great way to make their community a better, happier place.
But there are also a great many benefits for you when you volunteer. Most people express that volunteering gives them a great feeling of satisfaction in accomplishing goals and helping others. In addition, volunteering can help busy moms make new friends, keep connected with the community and serve as a reminder that there’s a larger world outside of work and family. Even better, volunteering can reduce your stress levels. A 2007 study from the UnitedHealth Group found that 78% of people who had volunteered in the past year said that volunteering had lowered their stress levels.
Getting Started with Volunteering
To get the most out of volunteering, you should first identify your goals and interests. Pick out one or two key reasons that you want to volunteer: To help a cause? To make new friends? To make your community a better place?
Next, decide what you most enjoy doing. Do you want to work with animals, elderly people, or kids sports? Do you want to support a cause?
At the same time, take your personal preferences into account. Do you work better alone or as a team? What skills do you have to offer? Do you want to work behind the scenes or do you want to be in the limelight?
There are endless volunteer opportunities available. The key is to find a position that you would enjoy and that matches the organization’s needs. The closer you can come to creating an ideal match, the more fun and fulfilling volunteering will be for you.
Staying on an Even Keel
But while volunteering is generally a positive experience, you also run the risk of becoming overwhelmed because you have just added a new “thing to do” into your already hectic life. There are, however, ways to ensure that does not happen.
1. Start slow. Take a look at your schedule and figure out how much time you really have to offer. Be sure to pad that amount of time—it’s easy to get caught up in the optimism you feel in helping a cause. Organizations are glad to have whatever time you can offer even if that is an hour a month delivering meals to the elderly or helping at a blood drive every three months.
2. Learn to say “no.” Organizations will always ask for more and more of your time. Do not feel bad if you don’t have the extra hours to give. No one at the organization will fault you. They are happy to have you in the first place.
3. Choose a position that fits into your schedule. Maybe you don’t have time to actually go into the local animal shelter to volunteer but you do have time to make fund-raising calls while the baby is napping. Or maybe Saturday mornings when the kids are taking music lessons is the perfect time for you to get away from home.
No matter what you decide to do, volunteering can add a bit more spice to your everyday life.
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