by Stephen Roberts, Ph.D.
What benefits does an individual derive from volunteering?
Volunterring lets you get a real connection with your community by making it a better place. It helps you meet new people and make new friends. Not surprisingly volunteering improves social skills. This happens when your meet with a regular group of people and interact with them over time. You also meet people you are serving and, in your communications with them, given chance to practice your skills.
When you do good for the community you feel a sense of accomplishment, and this can increase self-confidence. Volunteering can provide career experience and be an opportunity to learn new job skills. Many people put this type of activity on their resumes.
Volunteering can provide a strong sense of purpose and contribute to having meaning in life. Finally according to a study carried out by the London School of Economics, the more people volunteer the happier they are.
To make the best of a volunteer opportunity, start with less challenging activities and slowly evolve to doing more demanding tasks. Don’t overburden yourself and get burnt out. You do not have to solve all the problems of the world in the first month – it is better to slowly engage and take on more tasks, if you wish, very slowly. You need to manage your time and your energy carefully so that you can maintain a high level of performance.
Keep your commitments to both the people you are serving and the manager of the organization that you are working for.
People count on you being reliable. Make sure to keep the information you learn about the clients you are serving confidential. Finally, this is not a place for you to persuade others to follow your beliefs with regards to religion or politics.
How do you find volunteer opportunities?
One of the best places is VolunteerMatch.org that claims to have matched 10,000,000 people with 104,000 organizations to carry out 97,000 tasks. When you go on the site you are given the chance to search for what you specifically care about, or to browse opportunities under headings such as seniors, human rights, children & youth and animals.
So check it out and get involved. Your community needs you!
If you are looking for some places to volunteer you might want to consider these organizations. However there are several dozen more options available in NW Ohio so if you have a passion to help visit volunteermatch.org for information.
Area Office on Aging www.areaofficeonaging.com 419-382-0624
American Red Cross of Northwest Ohio redcross.org/local/oh/toledo 419-329-2900
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church www.stpaulstoledo.org 419-243-4214
Toledo Humane Society toledohumane.org 419-891-0705
United Way of Greater Toledo unitedwaytoledo.org 419-248-2424
The Victory Center www.thevictorycenter.org 419-531-7600