Giving back to your community can be one of the most rewarding experiences that you can have throughout your life. Contrary to popular belief, volunteering doesn’t have to be some elaborate work you are doing that changes the world. Oxford dictionary defines volunteering as freely offering to do something. So yes, mowing your neighbor’s lawn or shoveling the old lady’s driveway that lives down the street is considered volunteering. Volunteering can come in many forms, some that are very simple and don’t take very much time, some that take a lot of time. Don’t be stressed if you don’t feel like you are doing enough, because while something little might not seem very big to you, it can move mountains for others.
Volunteering has many benefits to both the receiver and the giver. It can lead to many social benefits such as meeting new people, and opening your mind up to those that might be less fortunate than yourself. Studies have even shown volunteering can counteract the effects of stress, anger, anxiety and can even help with depression. Volunteering is so good and truly creates a win-win situation between giver and the receiver.
There are many ways that you can volunteer, all equally rewarding and beneficial to others. One of these ways is what I like to call “self-volunteering.” This method is probably one of the easiest to do, and can be done really whenever you have time. Essentially it is just you finding time in your day to help or benefit someone else. Some of these activities might include picking up trash in a local park, or shoveling other people’s driveways and sidewalks. The possibilities are endless and really just require you to use your imagination and find a way to help someone.
Another way, and perhaps the most popular, is through different organizations. These include many nonprofits that mainly rely on volunteers to keep their doors open. Volunteering for these organizations is super rewarding and there are thousands of them to choose from. I recommend that you find something you are passionate about and pursue some type of volunteering in that field. For example, if you love animals, there are many animal shelters that might need help cleaning cages or taking dogs for a walk. The important thing when doing this is to call the non-profit or look on their website to see if they need any volunteers. Many times they will be all too happy to have the extra help.
Another type of volunteering that may be a bit more difficult to achieve but is super rewarding is doing some type of mission trip. Mission trips are typically out of your city, in another part of the country, or even another part of the world. One of the hardest parts of these is that they are usually much longer, and take a week or more. However, these can be some of the most rewarding weeks of your life. Many churches do different mission trips you can go on. These are nice because you often know everyone going with you including some of your friends.
If you don’t have a church that does mission trips or you are feeling a bit more generous, then you can check out companies like International Volunteer HQ. Companies like these allow you to go to their website and select what type of service you are interested in. Many of these include education, agriculture, community development, construction, and medical. After that, they give you a list of different countries that have those volunteer programs in them. One of the hardest parts in doing a mission trip is the cost of it. For example, you are in charge of paying for your flights to get to and from that place, along with a fee, which usually includes meals and accommodation. You also have to be mindful of what countries you are going to, because some countries will require you to get a visa in order to enter that country. As you can see, the costs add up but, it is still an amazing experience that I suggest you look into if you are ever given the opportunity.
In the long run though, it doesn’t matter what type of volunteering you do. Whether it is big or small, directly helping someone or working behind the scenes, it doesn’t matter because what’s important is that you are helping others!