Volunteering - A Good Use of Your Time

Volunteers work in many capacities

Protecting the oceans and their inhabitants with seashepherd.org
Protecting the oceans and their inhabitants with seashepherd.org | Source

Why Would You Volunteer?

Volunteering is an activity where you donate your time and energy to a cause you are interested in or believe in. The good reasons for volunteering are numerous. Volunteering helps you develop new skills and freshen up existing ones. Volunteering expands your life in new directions, helps you make new friends and contribute to your community, whether in your local area or worldwide. The health benefits of volunteering have been showcased in several studies, volunteering is very good for your physical and mental health. It's also just a great feeling just to do something for someone else, or for the planet.

How Many Excuses Do You Have?

Not enough time, no skills of value to offer, no transport, there are these and many other reasons people give for not being able to spend some of their time volunteering. Some people also have the perception that volunteering will be tedious and boring and therefore carried out begrudgingly. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Types of Volunteering

As a volunteer you could be doing anything from having a cup of tea and a chat with an elderly neighbour to counting turtle eggs in Costa Rica. The secret is to get involved in the kind of volunteering that is well aligned with you and your interests and skills. Perhaps you're interested in childcare, politics or the environment. You might want to get involved using the skills you have from your regular work such as medical skills or financial abilities or you might want to do something totally different. You also need to think about what benefits various kinds of volunteering might offer to you. For example, do you have preferences around working with people, with animals, or alone? Do you want to work in your local area or take off to the ends of the earth? Do you want to spend regular time in volunteering or do something for one week per year? While you need specific skills for some volunteering opportunities, there are many more which are open to anyone prepared to spend their time and effort. It's also a great opportunity to acquire experience in areas you might like to move into in your working life.

Where Can I Find Out More?

Local Volunteering

You only have to look around your local area for multiple opportunities. Churches, schools, charitable organisations and possibly even your current employer are always looking for extra hands to contribute to worthwhile causes. Some employers are involved with particular charities and give staff time during working hours to participate in volunteer activities. Churches are always looking for help both in running their own activities as well as reaching out to their communities. Schools and sporting organisations always need some assistance. For a wider array of opportunities, look to local government organisations and on the internet.

Perhaps you'd like to help out in the Botanic Gardens in Reykjavik, help build a school fence in Nigeria or help organise sports and cultural activities for orphans in South Korea. There is literally a world of volunteer opportunities available internationally.

Some good resources are:

Earthwatch

Medicins Sans Frontiers

Workingabroad

Globalvolunteers

Worldwidehelpers

Workanywhere

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