by Linda Joshua
It’s well established that volunteering is not just good for the one who gets, but for the one who gives, too. Even a small undertaking can cause an enormous change in another person's life, and seeing someone benefit from the help that you give is truly an amazing experience. But in our busy, overscheduled lives, the thought of volunteering is something we support heartily, but don’t always take time to fit in.
Let me offer up my story. I work full-time and have two children ages four and under. Life is hectic! Last year, CanDo was in the news a lot and I started hearing about all of the wonderful things they were doing throughout the Valley. I joined to receive "The CanDo Connection," the weekly email blast, and in the next weeks they put a call out for someone to manage their Facebook page. The last email said “Come on. You know you want to!” And I realized that I did!
I didn’t have time (and sometimes the energy) for issue group meetings, meet-ups, community forums or work projects. What I did have was ten minutes to sit in front of my computer and update the Facebook page on a regular basis. I could make it exciting, current, and a place you'd want to drop by every single day to learn about volunteer opportunities. So I’m volunteering, and it’s manageable, useful, and fun.
People volunteer for a variety of reasons beyond altruism: To build self-esteem, to feel needed, to make a contribution to society. Maybe it's to fulfill community service obligations, expand your social network or resume, to show your children that you practice what you preach, or to honor the memory of someone you've admired.
Whatever the reason, donating time, creativity, talent, and a little effort has the potential to bring immense benefits. You may meet new people, practice a former profession or learn a new one, find potential career opportunities, develop skills in leadership and decision-making, or recognize the gift of deeper appreciation for the little things in life.
Research shows that there are also health benefits associated with assisting others. Volunteering can bring about an improved sense of well-being and higher self-esteem and can lower health risks connected to anxiety and depression. But perhaps the best reason to help others is to experience the sense of achievement and personal fulfillment that volunteering brings. It makes sense! Haven't we always intuitively known that giving is better than getting?
Maybe you have 10 minutes a month, a week, a day, or an hour, but I guarantee that you do have the time and there is an opportunity that's right for you. Volunteering doesn’t have to involve grand gestures, though those are pretty darn cool! It can be as simple as picking up trash on your weekly hike or putting a poster in your local community center. Volunteering can be incorporated into your everyday life in a way that is seamless and totally natural. Do something – anything - and do it not just to be of assistance to others, but to nurture yourself. You’ll be so glad that you did.
So now the question is, how do you want to spend your 10 minutes?