3 reasons to volunteer

I’ve been volunteering in my local community since I was 15 years old. Volunteering is one of those activities that has added meaning and purpose to my life, and also taught me life experience. Here are my top 3 reasons why you should consider volunteering.

1. You’ll learn about a different area of your community.

Over time, the places I have volunteered at, have been so diverse. From children’s hospitals to nursing homes, from libraries to Mud Runs. With each experience, I got to meet people I never would have met during an ordinary day in my life. I got to understand how different people lived their lives, what their passions were, their hopes and dreams. Because you see, when you’re volunteering, people, and this includes yourself, will allow their day-to-day mask (figurative not literal in the days of Covid-19) to drop. This happens because they’re either participating in an activity that is near and dear to their hearts or because no one important enough is around to watch their behaviour (think — boss, mom and dad etc.). So as you’re chatting away with your fellow volunteers you’ll learn about their lives and you’ll tell them about yours. And what you’ll end up learning might be good for your heart. Which brings me to my second reason.

2. Your heart will grow.

Two sizes bigger to be exact, if it wasn’t already big to begin with. Ok I can’t actually say that factually, but you will feel immensely better about yourself after helping someone else. The more diverse your volunteer experience becomes, the more you will meet people who volunteer about causes they are absolutely passionate about. And it is infectious to be around that kind of energy. It will inspire you to find that particular cause you are passionate about, and help. Because someday, the person that might need help, could be you. Which brings me to my final reason.

3. You never know when you’ll be the one who needs the help.

Being part of a community, geographically, metaphorically, religiously (etc.), means that you belong. You can give to your community. And there may come a time where you will need that community to give to you. When my father passed away, I reached out to my local community for grief counselling support. I received it, willingly, kindly, through a volunteer agency. I will forever be grateful for the kindness and compassion with which I was treated.

But there was one moment where I wobbled a little bit. Wondering whether all that volunteering had been worth it. While getting grief counselling support to help me deal with the grief I felt at losing my dad, a counsellor told me she found me to be ‘resourceful’ and wondered how I’d even found their volunteer agency. This hurt me privately to no end, so soon after losing my dad.

In hindsight, I now know that particular comment had nothing to do with me and everything to do with that counsellor.

Here’s what I will tell you about that wobble and whether all that volunteering was worth it.

Having the courage to put your hand up and ask for help is never a case of you being resourceful. Instead — it is a sign of your maturity, strength and self-love.

As for whether all that volunteering has been worth it?

100% yes.

Because volunteering has nurtured my innate compassion, patience and empathy for others and myself. It continuously reaffirms my faith in humanity, regardless of the social environment and what media tells us about the state of our world. It lets me meet people from walks of life I normally wouldn’t meet, and learn about their core values, which may be different from mine. I’m grateful for all the years I’ve volunteered in my local communities; for all the people I’ve met along the way. I’m even grateful for the flippant comment that one counselor made to me — because it crystallized to me how I’ll never say something like that to someone who is in pain. How I’ll never be like her, and how I wish her well. Sincerely.

During this pandemic there are many ways you can volunteer virtually, from the safety of your home.

So get out there and be part of your community. You never know who you’ll meet, what you’ll learn, and when you’ll be the one who needs the help.

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