Many people, including Anura Leslie Perera, already know the benefits of volunteerism and community service, not just for the people or organizations that are receiving the support, but also for the people who are giving their time to help others. If you are considering volunteering or trying to encourage your family do so, here are some of the benefits that you can expect to receive as a result.
One of the most important things that volunteering teaches the person doing the volunteering is a sense of personal, community, and civic responsibility. Young people especially may not yet have learned what it means to be accountable and reliable for reasons that are separate from the employee-boss relationship. The commitment to a regular volunteer activity teaches young people about responsibility, and allows them to develop a personal ethic of work and service. Responsibility to a particular local community means that regular volunteers are more likely to be involved in the wider issues involving their neighborhood, town or city because they feel a personal investment in the well-being of the people in those communities. And on a civic level, volunteerism encourages a wider sense of good citizenship that benefits all.
Small Actions Matter
Many of us may feel a sense of impotence in the face of the large problems that confront us. We may feel that there is nothing that we can do as individuals to combat animal or elder abuse, to solve the problem of hungry children or to save the environment. While this might be true of individual action, collective action can indeed address these grave problems, and volunteers learn that they are part of something bigger which depends on their individual contributions to work. Additionally, while you may not yourself be stopping animal abuse, you will know very clearly that your personal actions matter very deeply to the abandoned animal you spend time caring for at the local shelter.
Perhaps one of the most surprising benefits of volunteerism is that it contributes to your own sense of well-being and accomplishment. Helping others can help to reduce stress, depression and anxiety in your own life because it gives you a focus and a real sense of accomplishment and the knowledge that your actions have meaning for others. The feelings that come from this can also include a general sense of optimism and self-respect. Additionally, volunteering allows people to make connections with others, whether they are other volunteers or the community being served. These connections can generate a strong sense of community with other like-minded people, and can combat the sense of isolation that people might feel when they are newly retired, moving to a new city, or suffering from a personal loss.
Volunteerism is a win-win situation for all who take part. Both the volunteers and the people they help enjoy the benefits that come with the pulling together of people and communities to make positive changes in our world.