11 Amazing and Unexpected Benefits of Becoming a Volunteer

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There is something to be said of volunteers. There are volunteer fire departments, soup kitchens, campaigners, and more. What all of these people have in common is a willingness to give their time and energy to another person or a group of people—monetary reimbursement not needed. Doing volunteer work is, however, very rewarding. Volunteers get to see the difference their efforts make to those they are helping. They see the smiles, the joy and tears of people, the gratitude of worn, tired and scared animals and so much more. Their willingness to exercise compassion regularly makes a profound difference in the world, no matter how great or small the deed. But there are some unexpected benefits of becoming a volunteer that you definitely want to get in on.

The ability to slow down and think about another being and do something to help them along is quite valuable. Volunteering allows us to share experiences with people and animals that we wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to. It puts things into perspective and in turn, makes us more appreciative of things and people. By giving of our time we tend to feel like we have more time, oddly enough. And although volunteers are unpaid, the value of volunteer time is worth almost $25 an hour, so don’t be afraid to find volunteer opportunities near you and add to your value.

1. Builds Bonds

Fellow volunteers and even the people you serve just might surprise you and become a friend for life. You may be surprised at some of the places true friendship lies. Developing closer relationships with coworkers, family, friends and other volunteering communities is quite often one of the many side effects of volunteering.

2. Increases Social Skills

Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert volunteering can help build and increase your social skills. Improving socialization is known to have positive effects on both our mental and physical health. It’s a sort of brain exercise. After all, humans are by nature social beings. It is very possible that your communication and listening skills will become stronger as well.

3. Emotional Stability

Some emotional conditions can be helped with volunteerism. Volunteering can be part of the therapy for people in anger management and people suffering from PTSD, depression and low self-esteem. They tend to feel a greater sense of community and purpose. Volunteering is also helpful when used in the rehabilitation of prisoners. There are programs that allow inmates to train shelter dogs. This proves to be beneficial to both the dogs and the humans.

4. Promotes Longevity

Participating in volunteer work means that you’re keeping active, and staying active is one of the keys to living longer. Long-term volunteers tend to suffer less from disease and have better health overall when they are doing it for the right reasons according to a 2012 study.

5. Mental Health Aide

Many mental illnesses can be positively affected by volunteering. Those suffering from depression, OCD and other mental illnesses can greatly benefit from volunteer work. It can give a sense of purpose and verify their connection to the community and other people. It gives them time to socialize in a way that brings joy and calm.

6. Reduces the Risk of Developing Alzheimer’s

Regular brain exercise is good for you. Volunteering can improve the brain’s elasticity, which reduces the chances of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s. Social interactions can help to slow and hold off the progression of these types of illnesses. Doing volunteer work is highly interactive and social activity.

7. Burns Calories

Doing volunteer work often means that you are not at a desk. You are moving from place to place, person to person, pen to pen. There’s usually a lot more actively involved in volunteer work than a desk job. All of the up and down and movement that comes along with volunteerism gives you the chance to nurse your joy and gratitude while getting more activity in.

8. Provides Better Job Opportunities

Volunteers often experience better job opportunities. For one, moving within different social circles puts you in contact with people you wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to meet. Volunteering can be put on your resumé. It shows potential employers that you are willing to give of yourself and that you have the ability to work with a diverse group of people. It also shows where your interests and values lie. Some corporations and companies even allow employees to do volunteer work during business hours. These types of employee volunteer programs tend to make employees more valuable to the company while attracting more committed employees.

9. Improves Educational Experience

Engaging in volunteer work while in high school rubs college admissions officers the right way, while volunteering for college students can boost their job prospects once they’ve graduated. Depending on where students give of their time, they may find that they are learning skills and strategies that can be useful in their studies or future careers.

10. Fun Memories

Being a volunteer gives you lots of opportunities to meet new people and create some great memories. Part of being a volunteer is having fun. Even if you’re more of an introvert and don’t care for socializing too much, you can enjoy meeting people that you may not have otherwise come across in your day to day activities and developing relationships that are definitely worth their salt.

11. Develop New Skills

It doesn’t matter what area you decide to give your time to, what matters is that you give the time. Of course, your dollars will always be appreciated by any organization that’s working to serve any segment of the community, but your physical presence will enrich your experience all the more. With side effects like these, it’s kind of hard not to want to get out into the community and give of your time and energy.

Volunteering is such a gratifying experience that has so much to offer both the volunteer and those being served. When you volunteer you are changing the lives of those around you for the better, but be sure to know that you are also changing your life for the better. Embrace these benefits and start volunteering today.