Unless you’ve made a habit of volunteering, it can be a challenge to come up with the motivation to get started. Here’s something to motivate you: volunteering isn’t just good for the communities or organizations you serve; it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself.
Doing good deeds for others can reduce stress and anxiety, alleviate loneliness and depression, and improve your mood. Researchers have found that charitable acts stimulate our brain’s reward center, leading to the “warm glow” we feel when we know we’ve helped someone out. And regular volunteer work with an organization can create an opportunity to forge meaningful relationships and build an enduring support network. As a hands-on learning environment, volunteering is also a great way to acquire new skills, to gain experience in new fields and try out possible careers.
Here’s how to get started volunteering, plus a few ways to find organizations to serve and support.
Determine What You’d Like to Do
Do you want to help out your local community? Learn a new skill? Share a skill you already have? Travel and experience a different culture? Test out a possible career path? Work with a specific population? The best way to volunteer is to find something that matches your personality and interests, according to HelpGuide.
Look for Opportunities
Organizations that regularly provide volunteer opportunities include museums, libraries, theaters, youth organizations, historic sites and state parks, animal shelters, senior centers, food banks, and places of worship.
Find the Right Fit
Volunteer opportunities are practically limitless. You might love an organization’s mission but not quite click with the staff. Or you might adore the team but struggle to make the hours fit with your schedule. As you sort through options, it’s important to learn what a given organization’s needs are and whether they align with your interests and availability.
Here Are Some Online Resources:
- The Corporation for National and Community Service
- US Peace Corps
- American Red Cross
- Moving Worlds
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