The How's and Why's of Volunteering
Recently, Houseables has started offering Paid Volunteer Time Off to its employees. As exciting as this development is, we are posed with the questions, "where do we start", and "how do we motivate our team to take advantage of the opportunity"?
Well, we've done a little research to answer those questions, and the information is so compelling we thought we'd share!
1. Volunteering can connect you to your community
Feeling connected to a community can increase our sense of belonging and overall mental wellbeing. Consider volunteering an investment that returns a sense of kinship to our neighbors.
2. It's a great way to meet new people!
If you're ever feeling stuck in a rut about your social circles, volunteering can be your way of "getting out there". You might end up meeting people with similar interests, or at the very least, you'll meet volunteer buddies who share similar values.
3. You can learn new skills
Volunteering can actually help you develop new skills that might be useful in the future or in life. Depending on where you decide to share your time, you might master new computer programs, organization, management savvy, time management, teamwork, work ethic, problem-solving, training, communication - the list really goes on. As an added bonus, many of these skills are directly translatable to a strong resume!
4. The health and wellness benefits
Many avid volunteers report an increase in overall health and wellness, including mood improvement, boost in sense of purpose, lowered stress, and even better sleeping habits. Give better, feel better!
How do I get started?
1. Follow your interests and skills
Do you have certain skills or hobbies that you'd love to share in a volunteer setting? Such as teaching an instrument that you play to underprivileged youths, tutoring mathematics, cooking, playing cards with the elderly, etc.? Or do you have a charming smile and infectious personality that would light up a soup kitchen or hospital waiting room? Do you love animals? Are you passionate about the environment? There is a cause for everyone, your purpose is one Google search away!
2. Set goals for your volunteer experience
Goals give us direction and guide our purpose, and setting some for your volunteer experience will help you choose where you want to spend your hours. Examples include:
- Helping others
- Improving the neighborhood
- Meeting new people
- Gain new experience
- Expand skills, hobbies, or interests
- Do something purposeful and rewarding
3. Determine how much time you can give
Knowing the boundaries of how much of your free time you are able and willing to give is an important factor in choosing an organization. If you can give 2 hours on the weekend, maybe picking up trash at the beach is your scene. If you can give 4 hours on a weekday, perhaps cataloging at your local historical society is a good use of your time.
4. Research and Apply
Research local volunteer opportunities based on your needs and wants listed above. When you find the right place, send in an application if one is required. Sometimes, all you need to do is show up!
5. Record your experience
Create a volunteer resume as you go along. Keeping track of your skills and experience can better prepare you for future opportunities and place you based on the talents you have to offer. Additionally, consider keeping a volunteer journal to track your experience and assess what you do or don't like.
It's never too late or the wrong time to start! Just volunteering once can lead to a happy, healthy, lifetime commitment with the practice. Let us know where you volunteer on our Instagram @Houseables!