Thousands of organizations that do important work in their local communities are starved for volunteers to help carry out their objectives of helping those in need and strengthening their communities. Their missions are many and may include caring for wounded animals, distributing food to hungry people, or building shelters that families can call home. The breadth of volunteer work available in many communities ensures that there’s a potential fit for just about anyone interested in donating some of their valuable time.
Teresa Wolande, an entrepreneur and retired insurance industry executive who has served on various charitable boards and foundations over the years, says that volunteering not only has a big impact on your local community, but on yourself as well, particularly if you’re struggling with depression or loneliness. Teresa shares just a few of the noteworthy positive benefits that volunteering bestows on those selflessly sharing their time and effort with the community.
Improving Your Career Prospects
Volunteering has long been used as a way to gain real-world experience in a work-like environment and bolster one’s resume and it continues to serve those functions well. That’s especially true of young people just getting started on their journey into the corporate world.
However, volunteering is a useful undertaking for those at any stage of their career, according to Teresa Wolande. She says it can help them develop new skills, expand their network of contacts, and test out their passion and aptitude for different industries and occupations.
Boosting Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem
Stepping out of your comfort zone and tackling new challenges is a great confidence booster and volunteering provides opportunities to do just that, says Teresa Wolande. A report issued by the National Youth Agency found that volunteers aged 11-25 greatly improved a wide range of skills through their volunteering initiatives, including their confidence, self-esteem, communication skills, punctuality, and stress management.
Improving Your Health
A UnitedHealth Group study found that volunteers are significantly happier and healthier than they were prior to volunteering. Volunteers reported having far lower stress levels and were more informed and proactive about their health. Volunteers also reported that they were better able to manage a chronic illness. It’s no wonder then that surveys have found volunteers have lower rates of mortality and improved life satisfaction.
Teresa Wolande on Combatting Symptoms of Depression and PTSD
Volunteering boosts happiness and provides a sense of purpose in one’s life, says Teresa Wolande. It can be a powerful tool in the battle against stress, depression, and PTSD. Volunteers are more physically active and socially connected, decreasing feelings of loneliness and depression.
Volunteering, especially when it involves animals, has also been shown to help those suffering from the effects of PTSD or a wide range of other mental health issues. A Saint Louis University study revealed lower rates of PTSD and depression among veterans who volunteered for 20 hours a week for six months.