Katniss Everdeen did it to save her baby-sis in Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games (although, in a less than appealing way) and people across the world are doing it every day. What’s this we’re talking about, you ask? Why volunteering, of course!
If you’re anything like me, you’ve always wanted to give back to your community and do what you can to help those in need. For example, my dream job is to write for (or produce social media for) a nonprofit organization. This could start off by becoming a volunteer, right? Keep reading.
As twenty-somethings, we are constantly searching for ourselves. We want to become a part of society but, most of the time, we don’t know how to do so. Luckily, volunteering is a rewarding way we can give a little to ourselves and a lot to others.
Volunteering is a great way to build a sense of community, especially if you’ve just moved to a new city. It’s also a great way to meet people, build skills, and even develop your resume — which can be a great tool when you want to transition to a new job but don’t have enough experience. Best of all? Volunteering is fun and rewarding in its own emotional right — it just feels good to help others. While volunteering can be a humbling experience, it’s always a rewarding one.
The Rewarding Fun in Volunteering Can Be Found Everywhere…
but here are a few places you can start!
When I was interested in becoming a family therapist, I volunteered for about two weeks at Bethany Christian Services, a Christian adoption agency. This was one of the most rewarding experiences in my personal volunteering history.
Are you interested in becoming a social worker or pregnancy counselor? Volunteering at any adoption agency would be a great jumpstart to your career plans. While you won’t be able to interact with the adopting families, you could still learn about the adoption process and decide if it’s the right business for you.
Habitat for Humanity
Have you ever wanted to build a house? Habitat for Humanity houses all of your inner-architect needs – pun intended.
While under the supervision of construction professionals, volunteers at Habitat assist in building homes and shelters for those in need of them. This nonprofit organization is a great way to volunteer and, at the same time, earn college credit or start networking for future jobs. What more could you ask for?
While this might not be the lightest volunteering experience, you could be invaluable to someone in a crisis. It is important to remember that everyone needs help sometimes.
Search around for local suicide hotlines in your area – you’ll receive the proper training to speak with callers and gain an irreplaceable volunteering experience.
While you will receive professional training and have supporting supervisors, be cautious: if you’re very in touch with your emotions (a.k.a. you cry very easily), this might not be the volunteer option for you. Educate yourself before diving in!
Found at many local hospitals is the Make-a-Wish Foundation’s volunteer program. Established in 1980, Make-a-Wish has changed the lives of children with life-threatening medical conditions all over the world.
Physicians notify the foundation about the child’s wish(es) and then they, in turn, try their best to make their wish come true.
In this case, volunteering is as simple as visiting your local hospital and asking about their campus’ resources for helping terminally-ill children. You can make a difference by promoting the message of Make-a-Wish through social media, fliers, or by participating in a fundraiser that supports this legendary foundation.
If you are more serious in your dedication to giving back, consider applying for the Peace Corps. It is a wonderful and unique experience, although both extremely challenging and demanding, for someone who is willing to spend an extended time abroad.
Volunteers all across the globe participate in one of six programs: education, youth and community development, business and information and communications technology, health, agriculture and environment.
The Peace Corps is not for the lighthearted, however. Joining the Peace Corps requires you to essentially put your life on hold. The application process can take anywhere between six to twelve months with the traditional program running 27 months.
As you can see, your volunteering opportunities are endless and very easy to become a part of. If you’re nervous about going it alone, find a cause that you and your friends are passionate about. It’s a great way to give back to your community and strengthen your friendship.
If you’re in contact with organizations you volunteer with, it could lead to a job opportunity as they might be looking to hire someone within their offices one day. They’ll appreciate and remember your dedication to volunteering if you make an effort to stay updated with their organization’s mission.
These are just a few ideas of where to get started and why volunteering is a rewarding experience. There are so many ways–big and small– to volunteer. So what are you waiting for? Volunteer-on!