Volunteerism is one of those gifts that keeps on giving. There are countless special needs organizations, special interest groups and non-profit organizations that can benefit from the gift of your time and talents.
Why should you volunteer? Well, everyone has their reasons. Some students need to volunteer to get course credits. I know others who volunteer as a family activity. Sometimes, I volunteer because it's the only way I can contribute.
Regardless of your reasons, volunteering is good for your health. Your PEMS health, that is:
- Physical benefits: Have you ever signed up to do a charity fun run or walk? You can get into shape and collect pledges for a worthy cause. Or, you could help someone less mobile by running errands or carrying items for them.
- Emotional benefits: When I feel like the world is beating me down, there's nothing like helping someone else to put my life into perspective. Also, I find that volunteering enables me to meet a variety of people I wouldn't normally meet through my line of work.
- Mental benefits: Volunteering can be as mentally challenging or as easy as you wish it to be. You can serve on a committee or a board. Or be an event volunteer. It's up to you. Plus, it's a nice brain break from your regular routine.
- Spiritual benefits: There is something to be said about raising someone up who could use a helping hand. It's the Golden Rule, really.
These are some ideas for volunteering in the community:
- Schools: Let's face it, our education system is getting cut down left, right and centre. Teachers would gladly welcome assistance during field trips, sports games and practices, band trips, musical theatre productions, science fairs, school club activities and so on.
- Churches: You can serve in various capacities at church - from helping out in the office to lending a helping hand at special events. You can also serve in the various church ministries.
- Non-profit organizations: Choose your area of special interest: fine arts groups, the environment, animals, the homeless, the disadvantaged, victims of abuse - these are just a few examples.
- Hobby-related groups: Are you an vintage airplane buff? Volunteer for an airplane preservation society. If you love history, contact your local museum. If you're a geek, consider volunteering at a convention, fair or expo.
Bear in mind that some volunteer activities require that you have reliable transportation (e.g. Meals on Wheels). Another caveat is that if you are working with children or vulnerable groups, a police check will need to be completed on you.
Here are a few places you can check out to explore volunteering in your community and beyond: