Volunteering: Finding Ways to Lend a Helping Hand

Volunteering: Finding Ways to Lend a Helping Hand

By Arjun

Volunteering is beneficial on a personal as well as community level. There are a variety of volunteer jobs available as well as ways to find them.

Charity is considered one of the seven virtues, and one that many people strive to emulate in their everyday life. Charity includes not only giving money – which is what most people think of – but the volunteering of time and energy to help others. Volunteering is beneficial on the personal, community, and national level. There are many types of volunteer jobs as well as ways to find them.

Why Volunteer?

Volunteering – of time, knowledge, or money – has many benefits. The greatest and most immediate is that it provides a direct, positive impact on the lives of others. Even the smallest activities have been hypothesized to improve the community, as widely publicized in Fixing Broken Windows by George Keller and Catherine Coles. Stronger communities and individuals can have a direct impact on the well-being of a country.

Various volunteer activities each help in their own way. Various volunteer organizations have different impacts: improving education levels, improving health, providing basic human needs, and improving the general quality of life. Volunteering is also a good example for children, teaching them that every single person can have a positive impact on those around them.

While volunteering is mostly done as an altruistic activity, there are also benefits for the person volunteering. Volunteering provides a sense of community that many feel lacking in today’s society, bringing them together with others and giving them a “feel” for their town or city. It also provides a feeling of self-worth and achievement. And lastly, volunteering is an impressive activity to put on a college application or résumé.

Where to Find Volunteer Jobs

Finding opportunities to volunteer is easier than ever before with the widespread use of the Internet. Three very good websites that help match volunteers with opportunities in their area include United Way, Volunteer Match, and the National & Community Service government website.

  • National and Community Service is located at nationalservice.gov and is run by the Corporation for National and Community Service. Users can search for volunteer activities either by keyword or by entering their zip code. There are also tool kits available to those setting up their own service project.
  • Volunteer Match is located at volunteermatch.org and is one of the largest volunteer sites on the internet. It provides not only local activities, but virtual volunteer opportunities. Users can search for opportunities by both keyword and by zip code. One interesting feature of the site is the “Disaster Preparedness and Relief Volunteering” section. One can search by state to find if there are any urgent disasters that need volunteers and how to go about helping out.
  • United Way, located at unitedway.org was formed in 1887 and has a goal of improving the common good by mobilizing individuals in communities. Users can search by zip code to find volunteer matches in their area.

Types of Volunteer Jobs

The various types of volunteer jobs available are endless. Volunteers are needed at soup kitchens, food banks, and nursing homes. The Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity almost always need volunteers. Actual tasks that need to be done are working phones, leading prayer groups, counseling, running errands for the home-bound and disabled, sorting food, construction work, and teaching.

The best way for individuals to get involved is to play to their strengths – using skills they possess to help out others. These skills can include writing, construction knowledge, book-keeping, specialized knowledge – such as health or teaching – and being “people-friendly”, among many others. Using these individual skills ensures that their time and effort provides the maximum benefit to those they are helping. Of course, there are plenty of volunteer jobs that do not require special knowledge or skills.

A Very Worthwhile Use of Time

While some people have spent their entire lives in the service of others, this isn’t an option for a lot of people. The undeniable fact is that even the smallest amount of time and energy spent in the service of others helps everyone involved. Volunteering, no matter in what capacity, is a very worthwhile use of time. Volunteer opportunities are everywhere, making it easy to find ways to lend a helping hand.

Arjun is an independent researcher, writer, speaker and a consciousness activist. He writes for Activist Post and Natural Blaze.

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