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A Better You
by Jo Ann Fore

Volunteer - A Worthy Position

A lone man stepped forward out of the crowd. He understood the sacrifice of time he was about to make. He accepted that he wouldn’t receive compensation for what was to be done. It required his energy and dedication, but yielded nothing tangible in return. He wasn’t obligated; he stepped forward willingly. Why did he do this?

Volunteerism: It is a spirit. And it can be caught. Once you believe in it, it’s easy to get hooked into a satisfying experience.

Volunteers make a difference. Many charitable, educational, and religious organizations rely on them. The U.S. Department of Labor compiled an annual Report, Volunteering in the United States 2005, and found that about 65.4 million people volunteered through or for an organization at least once between September 2004 and September 2005.


Volunteers are givers. And one of the greatest gifts they give is a gift of themselves. An unselfish gift of time, skills, and energy comes from the heart. Volunteers like to be needed, and they respond to this need – from the heart.

It’s widely accepted that volunteerism is a great way to help others. But when you considered the benefits of volunteering, one wonders if the scales aren’t weighted more in favor of the volunteer.

There are a lot of great benefits to being a volunteer:

Resume Builder
An excellent way to develop, or enhance, a particular skill

A unique way to associate with a particular cause you believe in

Community Involvement
A chance to give back to the community

An opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others

Self Confidence
A great way to feel good about yourself; you can gain respect for yourself as you sow into the lives of others.

You make important contacts with other people

Improved Health Benefits
In The Healing Power of Doing Good, author Allan Luks shares how “helping others regularly produces significant health benefits.” He touts a heightened sense of well being, relief from insomnia, a stronger immune system and speedier recovery from surgery for volunteers.

While the benefits of volunteering are numerous, you have to be careful not to dilute the spirit of volunteerism with selfish motivation. You cannot give out of a desire to receive. This isn’t the time to ask, “What’s in it for me?” It is when you give out of an innate desire to do something good for someone else that you receive the greater rewards.

If you would like to consider being a volunteer, take a quick self-analysis to see where you might fit in:

» What are you most passionate about?

» What type of skills do you have?

» What community problems concern you?

» What are your hobbies?

A desire to help others, coupled with your own interests, make a good match. Once you catch the spirit of volunteerism, you will find there are many opportunities for you. Be careful to select the right one. It makes for a much more enjoyable experience.

VolunteerMatch is a great online resource to help you find a place to volunteer. The website matches volunteers with places to serve – hundreds of them. And as the largest online network of participating nonprofits, they attract thousands of willing volunteers and match them with organizations in need. You go online, plug in your Zip Code, and opportunities to serve pop up on your screen within minutes.

Another great site is Cool Works. They have a section dedicated solely to volunteer positions and internships in the U.S. and around the world – from Alaska to Africa – short term and long term.

Volunteering – it isn’t always about what you can do for someone else. As a volunteer, the greater reward is yours.

Jo Ann Fore welcomes your comments about this article or suggestions for material you would like to see in future articles. Email her at: A Better You is published every Saturday.

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