Volunteering and Mentoring
Donating your time, expertise, and service for the good of another is the essence of volunteerism. While the concept is increasing in popularity and trending among all age groups, volunteerism is rich in history, spanning from the battlefield to the inner city streets. Its focus has remained the same through the generations—to encourage goodness and improvement in humanity’s quality of life.
The Faces Behind Volunteerism
There are as many ways to volunteer your time as there are organizations that welcome it. Volunteering is not only a “feel-good” activity but an integral part of our communities as well. More than 60 million Americans serve as volunteers or mentors, donating more than eight billion hours of service each year.
With all that help, do they really need more? How would one more person really make a difference? Consider for a moment what would happen if volunteers just stopped serving. Homeless shelters would close. Food pantries would be empty. Community parks would be full of trash. The elderly might be forgotten. The visually impaired might not have trained service animals. Afterschool programs would cease to exist, leaving countless children susceptible to life on the streets. Without volunteers, the impact on our towns, schools, parks, museums, and faith-based institutions would be catastrophic.
What Do Volunteers Do?
Volunteers provide a variety of services and support throughout our nation. Some of the activities in which volunteers and mentors participate include answering phones, delivering meals, serving as volunteer firefighters and emergency medical technicians, working on political campaigns, caring and training animals, building homes and infrastructure, beautifying parks, and assisting with arts and cultural exhibits.
Volunteers who provide support and guidance to young people are known as mentors, and while mentoring can be a much bigger commitment than other types of service, it can also be even more rewarding. Check with your local schools, community non-profits, or faith community to find out more about mentoring opportunities and how you can start.
Being able to make a difference in the life of another, and often your own as well, is one of the greatest advantages of volunteerism. It is also a healthy way to cope after the news of a disaster or tragedy of some kind. Believing it is a valuable part of education, many high schools across the country require students to volunteer a certain amount of hours in order to graduate. In addition, there are many other reasons to donate your time:
Time vs. Money
There is no denying it; volunteering or mentoring is a sacrifice. Anyone can write a check, but donated time is a great gift and a commodity we all have. How are you spending yours? You will never get back minute for minute the time you donate to volunteerism. But most volunteers would argue you receive much, much more in return.
If you are interested in making a difference through volunteerism, search out opportunities based on your interests and commitment levels at http://www.volunteerguide.org/.