Volunteering does the mind and heart good



Every year, nearly 1 in 4 Americans or close to 63 million of us, volunteer. Like donating money, donating time ensures many community shelters, social service organizations, food banks, as well as universities, hospitals, political parties, and religious and environmental groups are able to deliver their services and meet their goals.

Volunteering, however, also impacts society by increasing a sense of belonging both for volunteers as well those they help. Some research even suggests giving your time can positively affect your well-being.

If you or members of your family have spare time and are considering volunteering, here are some suggestions:

  • Consider your skills: You may be thinking about volunteer work related to a cause or interest, or because you enjoy connecting with people, which is great. But also consider your work experience and skills for instance, many charities need people with expertise in computers or cooking or communications and would be delighted to welcome someone who can jump right in with little training.
  • Consider your goals: There’s nothing wrong, of course, with choosing to volunteer with an organization that might help you with a skill you’ve wanted to learn. Maybe you work in an office but have always wanted to improve your carpentry skills and help build homes, or perhaps you’d like to brush up your writing skills by volunteering for a communications committee. Keep in mind, however, that this kind of volunteering may require more of a time commitment before you’re completely up to speed.
  • Consider your schedule: One of the most disappointing things for an organization is volunteers who commit then don’t deliver. Make sure you understand the time commitment that’s expected and whether that’s realistic based on your schedule and other commitments.
  • Don’t wait to be asked: Most not-for-profit organizations are thrilled to have motivated volunteers helping them out. Once you have a group or two in mind, phone or email and suggest an interview to discuss what you can offer or what they need. Remember, treat the interview as you would one for a full-time career do your research on the organization and ones with similar missions, prepare answers to questions you may be asked and practice.
  • Be satisfied: A lot of volunteering is hard work and some of it is emotionally draining. Expecting it to be fun may be expecting too much, nevertheless it should always feel rewarding. After all, your time and effort will make a real difference in the lives of others.

Have you volunteered? Are you considering it? Please share your own rewarding experiences in the Shop Talk Blog community forum!




Did you know: Young people volunteer more sort of

Thirty-five to 54-year-olds as well as teenagers 16 to 19 are most likely to volunteer. However those age 65 and over volunteer nearly twice as many hours as younger people. (Source)


23 thoughts on “Volunteering does the mind and heart good

  1. September 17, 2016

    Everyone should get something for something. Volunteering without a reward (of one’s choice) would be fruitless and disappointing, discouraging and futile, hopeless and a bitter experience.

    Even if you’re fired from a job you hated, it still makes you and your (former) employer agree to disagree. However, the reasons therefor may not agree. If you’re supposed to get paid and you’re not, or if you disagree with the management’s reasons for their decisions, their may be bitter acrimony and resentment, and future conflict. What if you run into each other again? what if the job, so-called, IS a volunteer job? What if the reward is not given or forthcoming? What if the manager, employer, boss, decision-maker, of whatever you call it, is wrong?? What if they’re paid and you’re not? For the same time, materials, labor, etc.? What if you’re used and abused? Spies and wrongdoing abound in this world. Whispers, orders, commands, mocking, cheating, stealing, lying, yelling, constant talking, harassment, following, stalking, and constant calling or complaints are the order of the day. What if even the paying customer needs a reprimand? Or is it just another “unmerited censure”? Is it a safe workplace? Is it fair, just and equitable? Is it an EOE? One cannot constantly keep relocating to find the “perfect” job, residence, or store or restaurant or church; the perfect waitress or manager or landlord; the perfect teacher or students. The patrons have a certain familiarity about them. So do the volunteers, customers, recipients, and others. So before you volunteer, give of yourself, your time, money, and other attributes, keep in mind that the used and the user become one in the minds of others.

  2. I think volunteering this opportunity help us give back to the community. I have volunteered at Child Care Center through the Foster grandparent program. Before retiring I was a director a child care center this allowed me to share my expertise

  3. I retired a year ago and have thoroughly enjoyed volunteering which I could not do while working fullbtime. I am a penpal thru RSVP and I mentor a 6th grade girl thru another organization. I also volunteer one afternoon a week with Youth for Christ and may do some small group studies with some of the girls I have gotten to know. Through my church, I serve at Community Kitchen and have delivered Meals on Wheels. I find that I love helping people. It makes me realize how blessed I am when I see others needs.

  4. I volunteer to be Santa for the city, I do a fund raiser for the Wesley House Campus Ministry selling pumpkins all of October, I teach insurance terms and meanings to Drivers Ed classes every semester, I do the Easter Egg Drop every year for the city, I organize the Christmas parade every year for the city, for the last 30 some odd years I have been a leader at several summer camps each summer,, I do team building activities for the local college teams, for many years I have worked the scholarship drive for the local college campus, Given over 18 gallons of blood, I have cooker 10s of thousands of hamburgers for chamber to thanks kids for coming to college in my city, I do children’s time every Sunday at church, For many many years I have been the clown for the college Homecoming Parade, I am on the college stewardship comm. and the list goes on.

  5. I serve as the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistant) Coordinator for the Charleston Trident Urban League. My job is to recruit and help train 80 volunteers to staff 12 income tax sites in the greater Charleston, SC area. This is a free income tax service for the low-to-moderate income folks of our community. Last year we prepared over 3000 tax returns which resulted in over 1.3 million dollars in refunds. Your comments above are very appropriate for any who would like to join our team!

  6. There are so many options when it comes to volunteering it can be overwhelming to choose. Sometimes you get involved and it turns out not to be what you thought it would be and it isn’t the right fit. It is all about finding your niche and taking time for a cup of tea while you think it over or maybe even sleep on it.
    Cooking or baking for various organizations
    Note taking and writing for a non-profit
    Assistant coaching
    Writing letters
    Building a home with habitat for humanity
    Time at an animal shelter
    Special Olympics
    Greeting folks as they enter the building
    Singing with a group
    Sweeping floors
    Cleaning messes
    Assisting with yard or gardening needs
    Delivering supplies from one place to another
    Set up and take down for events
    Clean up roadside with crew
    The other thing to consider is the time commitment. There are people who stay committed to a task a lifetime. What is the proper length of time to commit? Life altering events often curb ones ability to volunteer that happens and replacements need to be found. But, what if you get involved and just hate what you thought you would love? Any thoughts on the proper time commitment for trying a volunteer position?
    In the end, every position you try has something it teaches, a reason to be grateful.
    It is neither the sower or the planter who gets credit but the Lord who waters and makes things grow.
    May there be abundant workers for the harvest and may the Lord’s praise ever be on our lips.

  7. I volunteer at 2 different places. One is a Visitor Center in Baldwinsville, NY and the other is at a Nature Center also in Baldwinsville, NY. Both give me a feeling of giving back is wonderful. I’ve met people from all around the world who stop in Baldwinsville by either a boat or in a car.
    There are so many places that need volunteers that everyone should be able to find their nitch. Find what you would like to do. The cost priceless

  8. I do volunteer work at our Historical Research Center 2 days 10:00 – 3:30. I am not from this area so I have learned a lot about the town and county.
    Doris Sholly

  9. I would like to help with animals. I’m a dog trainer and I also could board dogs.

  10. You know the real deal what is the suggestion as to where.
    My first inclinations:
    Note taking and writing for an org if a typewriter it written notes work
    Assistant coaching
    Building with competent teammates who are willing to correct me when I go astray
    Special needs kids at church?
    What are the teams thoughts?

  11. I will be moving to the Leesburg, Virginia area in the next 2 weeks. Would love opportunities to volunteer. I am a retired Psycholgist and my husband a retired nurse.

  12. In the past, my volunteer activities have included membership on several boards of directors for nonprofits in the arts and disability communities. I also taught beginner crochet and spoke on eating disorders at a women’s retreat, as well as presenting on the topics of eating disorders, poetry and blindness for local organizations and schools. Currently, I’m involved in contributing to a local arts coalition, as we discuss how to make our respective groups/facilities better known in the community; also, I occasionally write articles for my church newsletter, sing in church choir and as occasional soloist, and serve as church liturgist about bimonthly, Braille Bible in hand. Future items on my volunteer wish list: further involvement in assisting those with eating disorders, and in supporting people with autism, since I am a late-diagnosed adult with Asperger’s. I say all this to encourage would-be volunteers who have disabilities to reach for the sky–don’t let other people’s conception of disability stop you from doing the best job you’ll ever love (and, don’t be afraid to take on volunteer opportunities while you are looking for paid work: that’s how you can establish your track record so that employers who have reservations about your ability to perform on the job can overcome their misgivings). Don’t let fear of failure or a can’t-do attitude stop you either: those aren’t assets, and the best way to contribute is to slowly overcome your own lack of confidence as a person with a disability, which may have arisen due to early training; just remember: you are older now, and you have a choice as to whether to entertain the negative voices or the positive ones. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you will eventually find someone who will take a chance on you, so that you can build the attitudes, skills and interpersonal connections you’ll need for any future opportunities.

  13. I have really gotten involved volunteering my time this year with several organizTions. Compassion International, Friend for Life,Colon cancer research project, MDA are all great campaigns that are fighting for such good causes It has been so rewarding working with great people who are passionate about helping others that are in need of their services

  14. I volunteer at a local art museum. It is so opposite of my everyday activities and it’s marvelous to be around the artists and the staff that keep all these wonderful outreach programs working so smoothly.

  15. I live in Dundalk, MD. I volunteer for a non-profit called The Dundalk Renaissance Corporation. They remodel homes in the area. They help individuals, etc. to buy the remodels and also help them get financing and actually contribute $5,000 – $10,000 dollars towards closing costs.
    They also have activities for the community throughout the year.
    We help whenever we are asked.
    My fiance’ and I received Volunteers of the year in 2011. It was so rewarding. We really felt like we were contributing.
    We also help my landlord with various activities in the community. She is amazing. We enjoy every minute of it.

  16. I have volunker for over 25 years at the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald house and also a Board Member

  17. I am the Executive Director of Art Without Walls,Inc.established in 1985,an award-winning 501c3 New York State independent,nonprofit fine art/Health organization devoted to creating original art therapy,art,cultural,educational programs fir the terminal ill and disabled community.
    There are .no grants or salaries including the Executive Director,we truly on in kind services and volunteerism.
    On August 27,28,2026,Art without WalI ,Inc.,as a fundraiser will be working at the Ling Island Ducks Baseball Team games,concession.
    If you truly believe in volunteering,please contact Sharon Lippman-Ex.Director at artwithoutwalls@outlook.com .Please volunteer to help.

  18. Our family has been rescuing dogs (and a couple of kittens) over the past 10 years in our rural community. There is no pound or shelter in one county, and there is in the other county our community falls in. This came about because our family Labrador saved me from drowning during a seizure. Over the past years we have rescued, rehomed, or helped find their way back home 114 animals. We have spent thousands on medical, food, vaccinations for them. We also give training advice to people that need some help solving behavior issues. Two years ago we became friends with the Griffiths and Falls that run Shepherds for Lost Sheep. These wonderful people train and place Service Dogs with Veterans. We had a rescue that was the right temperament for their program we donated. Then it went from there! Now we foster and train dogs for them. We are placing 3 dogs this month, bringing the total to 4 this year. Since there are 100 Veterans on waiting lists per each dog in training at this time, being able to do several at a time is a big help. We still rescue, some get rehomed, some become SD’s. It is really hard to watch the SD’s leave, especially when we have spent months with them, but what they do is incredible. The effect we have seen these dogs have is life changing. I do wish we could just do this full time, but someone has to feed and house these pooches. All of our children are adults now, all are involved in some type of volunteerism. Most with animals. I think it is wonderful they have chosen to give back. What we get from the dogs is priceless.

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