Making a Difference in the Lives of Others Will Make a Difference in Your Life Too

I know you’re busy. Friends, family, work, school, exercise, budgeting, taking the dog for a walk, eating right, cleaning the house, bingeing that favorite TV show—sometimes it feels like our to-do lists never seem to end. But adding volunteering into the mix, even if it’s just once a month will not only make your community a better place, but allow you to explore your passions, grow as an individual, network, and connect with others.

By making a difference in the lives of others, you can make a difference in your life too.

Let’s start with your passion—what are you good at and what do you enjoy? Maybe you’re an animal lover and you can volunteer at your local pet shelter or foster an animal. Enjoy helping kids? You could sign up for a program like Big Brothers Big Sisters. Passionate about politics? Volunteer on a campaign. Enjoy spending time with seniors? I am sure your local nursing home would love to have you come in and help call bingo or visit with residents.

The point is, if you can find something you are passionate about, you will bring that joy to those you are helping and boost your own happiness in the process. Studies show that volunteering makes us feel good, and improves our mental health.

Now let’s look at your career. Are there places where you can grow your skills and your network? Maybe you’re working to become a teacher—volunteer to tutor or teach English. Maybe you want to improve your graphic design or public relations skills—offer your services to your favorite charity to help them grow their brand, design invitations or create a new logo. You can grow your portfolio, enhance your resume and get a better understanding of your field by volunteering your time and your talents.

Volunteering is also a wonderful way to network, without feeling like you’re networking. It’s a natural way to connect with others, find mutual interests, and also show what skills you bring to the table. These people may not only become friends, but could be a valuable resource to you as you grow your career.

Plus, volunteering helps give us a sense of purpose and belonging. If we’re giving back to our community, you’re naturally going to feel more connected to your community. It’s a win-win for everybody.

If you don’t know where to start, you can refine your interests and see local opportunities at handsontwincities.org and volunteermatch.org. You would be surprised how many folks are looking for your time and help. Plus, you might just stumble upon a great charity or nonprofit you haven’t heard of yet!

Endless possibilities are out there, so add volunteering to your to-do list and see firsthand what a difference you can make in your community.

-Chelsea