Have you ever glanced around the crowd of parents making sandwiches for the high school band boosters and wondered what they could all possibly have in common? It’s a good bet kindness tops the list. Volunteers are those who are willing to give their time and talents to a cause without expectation of pay, and not everyone has the fortitude to do it. But for those who enjoy serving meals at the local soup kitchen or fostering kittens for the local animal shelter, the benefits go far beyond a paycheck. We’ve reached deep into the barrel of benefits that most people experience when they volunteer, and we’ve come up with three surprising reasons you might find it’s a good fit for you, too.
1. Volunteering May Help You Live Longer
Kindness is more than just feeling empathy for your fellow man. According to The Mayo Clinic, it has real physical benefits for you, as well. Performing acts of kindness can actually lower your blood pressure, lower your stress level, and boost your mood. Volunteering helps you feel good about yourself and your own accomplishments, which leads to higher self-esteem. But perhaps the biggest benefit you’ll reap from volunteering your time is the connectivity you’ll feel. Believe it or not, staying active in your community as a volunteer may just extend your life.
2. Volunteering Is a Great Way to Polish Rusty Social Skills
Are you painfully shy? Or do you have trouble thinking of just the right thing to say to people you don’t really know? Volunteering is a perfect way to ease yourself out of your comfort zone in easy, doable steps. Start small by signing on as part of the setup or cleanup crew, and you may eventually become comfortable enough to take on whole projects. Most volunteer positions require at least some contact with other members of your community, church, school, or organization. And the more you participate and get yourself out there, the easier those encounters will become. Eventually, you may forget you ever felt socially awkward at all.
3. Volunteering Can Lead to Paid Opportunities
Just like an internship, volunteering at your local fire hall or senior citizen center might even lead to job opportunities. Of course, there’s no guarantee this will happen, but being in the right place at the right time with the right type of experience could certainly push you to the front of the applicant pool. And, according to Monster.com, even if no paid opportunities arise where you’re currently volunteering, just having that experience on your resume makes you 27 percent more likely to be hired down the road when you start seeking employment in earnest.
Regardless of why you may decide you’d like to give volunteerism a try, you’re bound to experience some perks in return. Feeling good about yourself at the end of a hectic day, making new friends, and learning new skills are all worth your time. We hope you’ll give it a go, so you can experience the many surprising benefits of volunteering for yourself.