“Volunesia: that moment when you forget you’re volunteering to change lives because it’s changing yours.” The author of this quote is unknown, but many of us can relate. How often have you set out to help someone else just to realize that you’re also benefiting?
Building a Caring Network
Caring Network is a pro-life organization in the western suburbs of Chicago that has been serving women facing unexpected pregnancy since 1981. Through the partnership of our volunteers and faithful supporters, we recently opened a sixth pregnancy center, equipped to offer free services and compassionate support to women in need. Find out how to begin your volunteering your time at Caring Network today!
In His Word, God reveals to us that helping others is part of His design, and science has caught up and confirmed it.
God’s Word is full of references to love, generosity, giving, and sharing our gifts. Here are a few examples:
- So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:10
- Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18
- We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Romans 12:6-8
The Lord even references the benefits of volunteering:
- A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25
- God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. Hebrews 6:10
- In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16
So we know that God’s heart is for serving others. We also know He exhibits unfathomable love for us. So, it’s no surprise then that science also reveals there are tremendous benefits to volunteering.
Ten Benefits of Volunteering Your Time Regularly
1. Volunteering builds connections with others.
One of the best ways to build community and connection to others is by working on a common goal together. Volunteering is a great way to develop new friendships with people who share similar interests.
2. Volunteering combats loneliness.
Loneliness is an epidemic in America. One in five American adults report rarely feeling close to another person, and almost fifty percent feel isolated and alone. Volunteering is an opportunity to build authentic connections with others.
3. Volunteering combats depression.
Working together with other volunteers decreases loneliness and increases connection to others. Both of those things fight against depression.
4. Volunteering increases happiness.
God designed us to give to others, so it makes sense that research reveals positive physiological changes when we volunteer. “Feel-good” chemicals like oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin are released, which elevates your mood.
5. Volunteering gives you a sense of purpose.
We wither when we aren’t fulfilling our purpose. 96% of volunteers report that volunteering enriches their sense of purpose. This is particularly valuable after retirement or the death of a spouse.
6. Volunteering improves your physical health.
Some of the healthiest people in America are those who volunteer 100 hours each year. Volunteers tend to take better care of themselves and are physically more active, have less sickness, and even live longer. Research also reveals older volunteers have a 24% lower mortality rate.
7. Volunteering increases self-confidence.
Volunteers often feel a sense of accomplishment when they help others, which helps them view themselves positively.
8. Volunteering improves your overall sense of well-being.
Volunteers report feeling improved mental and physical well-being after spending time volunteering with others.
Dr. Martin Seligman, Director of the Penn Positive Psychology Center, states, “Doing a kindness produces the single most reliable increase in well-being [for the doer] of any exercise we’ve tested.” Research backs up his claim.
9. Volunteering can advance your career.
Volunteers make new connections, which can lead to career advancement. Volunteering also helps people try out new career fields. For example, someone interested in a career in the helping professions may consider volunteering at a non-profit organization or clinic. Volunteering also provides training opportunities to learn a multitude of new skills to bring into the marketplace.
10. Volunteering is fun.
Helping others while making new friends and improving your overall well-being is simply fun. It gives you something enjoyable to look forward to each week.
Volunteers Are Needed
More than 1 in 4 adults in America regularly volunteer in their communities, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). Almost eight billion hours are volunteered by 65 million Americans each year. Giving to our communities is part of our culture, but we need more.
Experts agree that volunteering approximately 100 hours per year or two to three hours per week provides the most benefits for you and the cause you’re helping.
Choosing the Right Volunteer Opportunity for You
It’s important to match your gifting with the needs of an organization. Here are some questions you can ask:
- What are your interests and passions?
- What are your spiritual gifts and talents?
- Do you have physical or other limitations?
- How many hours do you have available to volunteer?
- Do you enjoy working with a team or on your own?
- Do you enjoy working with people, or do you prefer administrative roles?
- Do you understand the commitment level of volunteering?
- Does the organization allow you to “shadow?”
- Does the organization offer training, and is there a cost for training?
Caring Network relies on volunteers like you to further our mission and vision in preventing unplanned pregnancies, and providing emotional support, spiritual counsel and practical help to anyone dealing with the effects of an unplanned pregnancy. When you share your time and other resources with Caring Network, you are making a powerful difference. Take a look at our volunteer opportunities and join us in our mission.
Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. Proverbs 11:25