By Aron Daniels
Statistically, one out of four people volunteer for a non-profit. In a society where people are working extremely crazy hours, juggling a list of family-related obligations, and running their households on a paycheck to paycheck basis, it’s understandable that finding a time and place to volunteer winds up at the bottom of a most people’s to-do list.
Did you know though, that volunteering not only helps your community, but it also helps you? According to The Guardian, “half of people (48%) who have volunteered for more than two years say volunteering makes them less depressed. 71% of volunteers who offer their professional skills and experience say volunteering helps combat depression; 63% of 25 to 34-year-olds say volunteering helps them feel less stressed.” In short, volunteering makes you a happier, more well-rounded person.
Volunteering actually changes a person. Volunteers are almost twice as likely to donate financially to a charity than those that don’t volunteer; they have a 27% better chance of gaining employment; they have better leadership skills, and a long list of other positive attributes that add to their personal development, according to volunteerhub.com, a leading resource for volunteer organizing.
All of that is good news, but it’s only part of the picture. Volunteering is definitely not all about you. One of the most important aspects about volunteering is getting outside of the mental space in which everything revolves around you. To really plug into a charity or non-profit is a chance to make an impact. You have the power to give your effort, time, and skills toward a cause that can change someone else’s life—by collaborating with a group of volunteers your impact is amplified to give something that would not otherwise be possible. You are powerful simply by being present.
Knowing that volunteering can be a positive and important factor in your self-care and a powerful positive force in your community, how can you get involved? What exactly is available locally that you could be a part of? You probably have a lot of opportunities within your normal contact network: maybe it’s a lady you run into at the gym who is always talking about collecting blankets and canned goods; maybe it’s someone who always seems to have 7 dogs that they are trying to rehome. Finding a place to volunteer may be easier than you think.
There are more than 500 non-profit organizations active in Pitt County, which is great news. It means you can probably find something that you are passionate about or interested in. Non-profits almost always welcome extra hands. Whether you care about geriatric care, animal welfare, the local homeless population, sick kids, educational advancement, domestic violence, literacy issues, beautification of the city, job training, or anything else, there’s going to be a place where you can contribute… and you don’t have to just pick one.
The secret of volunteering (and most other things) is that you don’t have time for it until you make time for it. Once you decide that something is important enough to add it to your schedule, the other parts of your life fill in around it. I challenge you to find three that you are interested in, get more information about the organizations, schedule a visit, and make giving back a priority. Check out greenvillenc.org, pittresource.org, and greatnonprofits.org to find local organizations. It will change your life and your community.