Volunteer for good: yours and theirs
You’re a busy person, maybe a full-time worker, and an engaged parent who might also be looking after your own parents as they age. But still, you find yourself wondering how you can give back to the community you live in while leaving time for all of your other obligations. Are you crazy for considering putting more on your plate? No, you’re human! And you’re looking for ways to improve your life and that of those around you. It’s natural and it’s totally doable.
First, the good news: Volunteering is beneficial in loads of different ways;
• Volunteering can lead to mental and physical health benefits
According to a 2013 study by UnitedHealthcare 1, 94% of people who volunteered in the previous 12 months said it improved their mood, 76% said it made them feel healthier, 78% said it lowered their stress levels and 95% said it made them feel like they were making a difference in their community.
• Volunteering can also boost your career prospects
Whether you’re a parent who’s taken some time away from the work world or someone who goes out to a job every day, adding volunteer responsibilities to your résumé always impresses potential employers. Remember to toot your own horn by taking credit where it’s due. Instead of just indicating that you “ran the annual school fair”, say you “planned and executed a community event that raised $5,000 and involved 100 volunteers, suppliers and staff.” That’s nothing to sniff at!
Now, the bad news: It can be hard to find the time for volunteer work when most of us feel we’re not getting our own work done soon enough or well enough – whether that’s laundry or workplace logistics.
• Start with causes close to home and branch out from there
If you’ve got a kid in school, you know that volunteers are always prized. Be aware that, due to safety concerns, most schools won’t let a parent just waltz in and start interacting with the students. You’ll need to confirm with a teacher, for instance, that you’re free to help out on a field trip and you might need to get a police background check if you’re going to volunteer on a regular basis. School-based volunteering is a great way to get to know other families in your community and a wide range of skills are appreciated: artsy folks are needed for school plays, techies are an asset to computer clubs, and sporty parents can often help coach a sports team – or at least chaperone at track-and-field meets.
• Volunteering at kid-centric activities can also help reduce costs
Co-op nursery schools, for example, usually have lower fees than traditional nursery schools because parents are taking turns providing snacks, leading arts-and-crafts activities, and tidying the classrooms. Younger kids’ sports teams are always looking for volunteer coaches and league commissioners. If you had to pay for a professional coach for your six-year-old’s soccer team, your costs would undoubtedly go up!
But, just because you have kids, that doesn’t mean that your volunteer efforts need to revolve around them. In fact, you might want to consider volunteering as a break from the junior members of your family!
There’s no end to the kinds of causes you can lend your time to: educational, environmental, artistic, political, and more. Just remember – volunteering in an area that you enjoy will probably make the whole experience much more enjoyable and successful. For instance, if you love reading, consider teaching literacy skills to new immigrants. If you’re a cyclist or a runner, find out how to bike or run with a visually impaired person. And if you’re good with tech, you might be helpful at a seniors’ recreation program.
To get started, take a look at the Foresters Financial website for some inspiration!
Whether it’s a small volunteer event or a national charitable partnership, Foresters Financial gives back to families and communities in so many ways. Foresters Financial™ provides many volunteering opportunities to members so they can choose an opportunity that fits with their interests and available time commitment.
Another option would be to enter “volunteer opportunities” and the name of your city or town into a search engine. You might be surprised at all the options out there.
Remember, volunteering is a personal choice. If you feel forced into it, you’re unlikely to see good results for yourself or the cause you’re volunteering with. So, choose something that fits your lifestyle and embrace it with open arms. Chances are, you’ll be hugged right back.
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