Responsible and Generous Living in Early Adulthood

But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. – Mark 12:42

3 Classic Ways Volunteering is Mutually Beneficial

1. Volunteering keeps you busy – busy not doing the things that you’re trying not to do.

You may be staring at the screen aghast at the idea that staying busy is an asset for any activity, but if you read our last post, you’ll know that keeping busy is essential in the simple life. Keeping busy has allowed me to avoid feeling lazy or lethargic. I only work 25 hours a week, and although I have homework and board meetings it never seems to fill up all the hours of my day. Before I committed to mentoring weekly with Love INC , it seemed my life was just open enough to feel like I needed to fill my time. To do this I would eat more, sleep more, go to movies more – just more. More than we need to do any of those things. Volunteering helps me do less of the things I shouldn’t do and more of what I’m passionate about, and more of a very good thing. If you sometimes find yourself thinking (or asking out loud):

  • What is there to do?
  • I’m bored, where can we go?
  • Wow, I already finished two seasons of Parenthood this week and it’s only Wednesday!
  • Facebook hasn’t changed much in the last 10 minutes.. or in ten minute increments for the last 4 hours.

I have a plan for you; volunteer! 

2. Volunteering builds connection.

Volunteering can take many forms, but very few of these forms are solitary (and I avoid the ones that are). The people I meet through volunteering provide me with perspective, community and connectedness.

  • Perspective from those in need who show so much appreciation for simple things and more often than not just need a person to listen to their story. 
  • Community from everyone involved as we practice the act of expressing gratitude and encouragement.
  • Connectedness from the people serving alongside one another – friendships that often transform into relationships that connect families, schools and cultures.
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Running a 5k with my first mentee and her kids.

Most importantly volunteering (for me, mentoring) allows me a couple hours every week where I can sit and completely focus on another human. I stop thinking about myself, what I don’t have, what I want and any sort of negative self-talk I might be caught up in. It gives me the opportunity to focus on someone else’s problems. I can take this with me throughout the week, practice cherishing another person who I may not have otherwise noticed. I can send up some prayers, remember her struggles, think of her needs and I can keep at the forefront of my mind the community I’m a part of; something much bigger than myself. Volunteering can give us a healthy dose of reality –  good for a budget and good for your spirit.

3. Volunteering prolongs your life – literally.

I’ve heard this before and I’m sure you have too. Studies have shown that volunteering reduces stress, lowers mortality rates, lowers likelihood of depression and a lot of other great things. This ALONE should be enough reason to get out and help someone. While studies vary on what physiological connection there is between volunteering and long life, a consistent theme is the emotional benefit of feeling connected to a higher purpose. There is a lot of good work out there that needs doing and so many of us are capable and resourceful enough to do it.

If you’re reading this and are waiting for a sign, nudge, or shove to get out and find a place to serve consider this it. Go! Find your Love INC, your soup kitchen, your mentoring program, your big brother big sister group, your Meals on Wheels. Plus – you’ll live longer!If you want to volunteer somewhere but don’t have any idea where to start – let me help you! Send me a note including where you live and what you like to do and I’ll generate some ideas.

Have any great volunteering stories? What makes spending time focusing on others worth it for you?

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This entry was posted on April 15, 2013 by in Community Investment, Frugality and tagged , , , .
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