Our world is in good hands with today’s college students entering the workforce. Recently I had a chance to speak to a couple college classes about leadership and their opportunity to make a difference. Then I took part in a volunteer event coordinated by a student group that involved packing meals for starving children around the world. I came away from both of these events so inspired and encouraged!
We all have a tendency to focus on our own home/community, which is very important, but we can’t lose sight of our responsibility as global citizens also. These students reminded me of the importance of not limiting where or when I might make a difference.
Here are five reasons, inspired by these students, for considering a volunteer activity within or outside you local community:
- You’ll learn something. There is only so much you can learn in a class/seminar or from a textbook. Research shows that civic engagement exposes people to new ideas and issues. The result is people feeling more empowered as citizens.
- You’ll make an impact. In the food-packing event I mentioned earlier, our group of volunteers packed enough meals to feed 135 children for one year. A group of all ages, races, and religions spent two hours filling packets with ingredients, sealing them and packing them in boxes. We chatted with each other and cheered when we filled each box. The next time those boxes are opened they will likely save someone’s life.
- You’ll meet interesting people. Community engagement is a great way to meet like-minded people and build connections. These opportunities may open the door to new passions and even a new career. I know a young man that ended up changing his career based on his experience volunteering with a national organization.
- You’ll gain important skills for success in almost any job. Time spent volunteering helps you learn problem-solving skills, how to plan, and the skills to collaborate and work in teams. If you are leading the effort, you also learn how to influence people who don’t have to do anything you tell them.
- Finally, you’ll have fun and it’s good for you! Doing something outside your normal routine is exhilarating and doing it with like-minded people doubles the fun. Studies have also shown that volunteering can have a positive impact on your physical and mental health.
So, come on, try something different! To find opportunities, check out VolunteerMatch.org, United We Serve, Idealist, or contact an organization you already know about and ask how you can help. Believe me, you’ll gain more from the experience than you can ever imagine!
Originally published at lisashasky.com on December 8, 2015.
Originally published at medium.com