The Power of Volunteering
Volunteering has the power to transform lives and create positive change in our communities. It could be as simple as offering a helping hand at the public library, helping out at a local shelter, teaching underprivileged children, or even participating in international relief efforts. No matter the type, volunteering has a positive impact on the lives of both volunteers and the individuals they are serving.
Benefits of Volunteering:
Firstly, volunteering brings with it a lot of personal benefits. Volunteering can enhance personal growth and self-esteem, by offering opportunities for individuals to build their confidence and maybe even step out of their comfort zones to expand their horizons. Through volunteer work, individuals can develop new skills and gain valuable experience as well. It also fills volunteers with a sense of purpose and fulfillment, knowing they are actively making a difference in their communities.
However, the impact of volunteering extends far beyond solely individual benefits. Volunteering leads to real and tangible effects on the community as well. Individuals can actively contribute to addressing pressing social issues, such as poverty for example. Volunteering can also bring people from very diverse backgrounds and cultures together, forming a sense of unity within communities. Moreover, volunteering can lead to huge differences in the lives of those in need. In November of 2022, Feed My Starving Children, an organization fighting against world hunger, was able to feed “128,800 kids a daily meal for a full year”, thanks to the work of many individuals who volunteered their time to help out these kids (Smith, 2022).
Story of Impact:
Natalie Fikes, an empowerment coach, had a life-changing encounter while volunteering at the City of Refuge in Atlanta. She met Wilma Raines, a woman who had lost her teeth, hair, and breast due to Stage 3 metastatic breast cancer. Fikes and Raines began developing a deep connection, and Raines asked Fikes if she could spend the weekend at her home. Their friendship blossomed, with Fikes helping Raines obtain dentures and challenging her to a race on what was supposed to be the day she was going to die. Raines trained tirelessly and gained a big and supportive following on social media. On the day she thought she might die, Raines won a race and later enjoyed a trip to New York City. Despite being given only six months to live, Raines passed away 15 months later. Inspired by their bond, Fikes created The Greater Purpose System to help others. This volunteering experience became a life-changing journey for both Fikes and Raines (AARP).
How To Get Involved:
There are many ways to get involved and start off your volunteering journey. You could start by researching volunteering opportunities in your local area, such as at community centers, non-profit organizations, and online platforms. Joining reputable organizations that align with important causes to you is also a viable option. It’s important to try to start off with smaller-scale volunteering activities that fit your schedule and interests, and once you gain more experience and deepen your passion, consider expanding your involvement. Networking with other volunteers and professionals will lead to a lot of new opportunities and growth. And who knows, you may even consider taking on long-term commitments such as becoming a board member or even organizing your own volunteer projects.
With the power of volunteering, we have the ability to transform lives, enrich our own experiences, contribute to positive social change, build stronger communities, and create a more inclusive future and world.
Smith, Julie. The story of 2022. Feed My Starving Children. https://www.fmsc.org/the-feed/news-and-updates/2022/the-story-of-2022
AARP. Two Stories of How Volunteering Changes Lives.