6 Awesome Benefits of Volunteering

Oct 31, 2019 | by The Salvation Army

We can’t say it enough—our volunteers are incredible! In 2018, volunteers in Silicon Valley gave nearly 60,000 hours of their time to bring hope and joy to our neighbors in need. Thanks to the support of these generous men, women, and children, we were able to provide over 23,000 nights of shelter to homeless individuals last year. We served more than 2,100 at-risk children and teens and fed the hungry with over 275,000 meals. 

Of course, the ability to help someone else and make a difference in someone’s life is priceless—that’s what inspires most of our volunteers to come back each year. Yet volunteering has a surprising number of personal benefits in addition to feeling good about making a positive impact. Here are some of the ways volunteers benefit from the very important work they do.

1. Pick Up New Skills

When it comes to volunteering, there are endless options. At our Silicon Valley locations, volunteers help with everything from deboning turkeys on Thanksgiving to translating printed materials to “shopping” with school-age children during our Back-to-School clothing event. 

As a volunteer, you can select opportunities that further develop skills or try a new activity to get out of your comfort zone and gain new experiences. Even if you choose a volunteer position in a role you feel well qualified for, you’ll develop better communication skills and discover a new perspective. You can use these newfound skills to break into a fresh career, get into your dream college, or for personal development.

2. Connect the Dots

Volunteering is an excellent way to become better connected. You will navigate relationships with nonprofit personnel, (maybe) interact with the people you’re serving, or meet other like-minded volunteers who may share your values. These days, many businesses organize group volunteer events for their employees. People who take advantage of these group volunteer events can connect with new people at their workplace, too!

3. Make Friends

Speaking of getting better connected, it’s also likely that you’ll meet some new friends while volunteering, too. It can be hard to make adult friendships, especially if you have recently moved. When you volunteer alongside other generous people, you know you already have something in common with them. Many times, you’ll find that the volunteers you meet share many of the same opinions and views as you. This can be the start of a lifelong friendship. 

4. That Happy Feeling

When you’re on the “front lines” helping others who are struggling financially, physically, mentally, and emotionally, it can bring up a lot of emotions. While you may feel sad, frustrated, or heartbroken in the moment, in the long term, volunteering has been shown to make people happier. Many studies show that people derive pleasure and happiness from helping others. Perhaps it’s the fact that you know you are doing your part instead of waiting by the sidelines for someone else to help. The happiness could also come from seeing the impact of your hard work in the laughter of children who now get a present for Christmas or in the look of relief that spreads across a father’s face when he knows the rent will be covered for another month. Your sense of accomplishment can make you feel good in other aspects of your life.

5. Boost Gratitude

There are so many benefits to being grateful, both emotional and physical. When you volunteer and serve others in the darkest parts of their story, it often illuminates all the good that’s in your own story, right now. When we are empathetic to others, hear their stories, and start to comprehend their day-to-day life, it allows us to be more objective about our own perspective and appreciate what we have already.

6. Discover Your Purpose

Now more than ever, people seek to blend their passions and interests with their careers. Gone are the days of working a “job.” Many people, especially millennials, seek to live out their calling in both their personal and professional lives. As a volunteer, you’ll learn new things about yourself. You’ll see life from a new perspective and learn more about the world and the people around you. These experiences are the perfect way to discover what causes and issues you’re passionate about, while empowering you to help be the solution. You’ll find what lights your soul on fire. 

Volunteer With Us

We rely on support from donors and volunteers just like you, who are gracious enough to donate their money, time, and energy to bring hope and joy to people in need. In Silicon Valley, a staggering number of men, women, and children are homeless. Around the holidays, that need is even greater, and we hear so many stories of families who go hungry on Thanksgiving or parents who must choose between paying their electric bill or purchasing a toy for under the tree.

If you would like to be a light to families in need, please check out our list of volunteer opportunities. Not only will you change someone’s life, but you’ll feel pretty darn good, too.

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