Volunteer work is a great way of giving back to your community, and also helps to foster a sense of personal self-accomplishment! Helping others actually has some surprising benefits that may not immediately come to mind when we think of volunteer work! Here are some great reasons to consider volunteering in your community.
Volunteering helps your community and the people around you. This is probably the most obvious benefit, and undoubtedly the main goal of what volunteer work is meant to accomplish! There are many forms of volunteer work out there, depending on what you are personally invested in. On a local scale, many choose to volunteer in soup kitchens during the holidays to ensure everyone has access to a hot meal. Others may choose to participate in “can drives” to create food and care packages for less fortunate families. Larger organizations often focus on even bigger projects – for example, Habitat for Humanity works to build affordable homes for low-income families. Volunteers are directly responsible for building these homes, and you can be a part of it too!
Volunteering is good for your health. Believe it or not, volunteer work is seriously beneficial to your personal health, both mentally and physically. Volunteers feel a sense of pride and accomplishment from knowing their actions directly helped another in need. Researchers have proven this by examining brain activity and hormone levels in volunteers; helping others makes us feel happy, and volunteer work can even be a great way to combat anxiety or depression. Volunteers often report an increase in their self-confidence as well. It’s a known fact that altruistic behavior – the practice of selfless concern for the well-being of others – helps us to build self-esteem, positive attitudes, and a sense of purpose in our communities. Multiple studies have also shown that volunteers reap physical health benefits as well – lowering your risk of heart disease, decreasing high blood pressure, and improved cognitive skills, just to name a few!
Volunteering looks great on college applications. Volunteer work is a fantastic way to give yourself the extra “edge” on college applications. Extra-curricular activities are always a plus for college applications, and many schools weigh volunteer work very highly when making admission decisions. Many prestigious universities – including UC Berkeley, Dartmouth College, Johns Hopkins University, Carnegie Mellon University, and plenty others – consider volunteer work to be an important factor when evaluating a prospective student’s qualifications. In fact, in a survey of admission officers from 32 of the top universities, 70% said they preferred to see a student that focused on a specific volunteer mission. Of those same officers, a whopping 92% said they were more impressed with a student that spent four years volunteering at a consistent organization. In other words, by choosing a cause you are passionate about and doing consistent volunteer work at an organization that addresses these issues, you can give yourself a serious edge over other applicants.
There’s really no reason not to volunteer – between the numerous health benefits, investments in community pride, and professional advantages, volunteering is an activity everyone should consider participating in!