Volunteer opportunities are everywhere in your community. Volunteers – from teens to retirees – make a difference in the lives of others and in their communities, plus volunteering can have health benefits.
“Volunteers help others but they may not know they’re also helping themselves,” said to Keresa Kilty, Volunteer Services manager at Marshfield Clinic Health System. “Volunteering helps people who choose to contribute their time to make their community a better place and to help people in need.”
Benefits of volunteering include:
- Having a sense of purpose
- Exploring different careers
- Helping others in need
- Putting free time to good use
- Increasing social interaction
- Learning valuable skills
- Boosting self-confidence
- Getting involved in the community
- Staying physically and mentally active
- Having fun
Research studies show that spending time doing something meaningful like volunteering helps people, no matter their age, feel a sense of purpose and appreciation. Volunteers also find they develop new relationships with volunteer-colleagues.
“Volunteers may do similar tasks so it’s a shared activity that can bring them together as ‘colleagues’ and friend,” Kilty said. “They also get to know people with diverse backgrounds, which they all can find to be really interesting and fun. Volunteers serve an important role throughout health care.”
Another important benefit is building skills
“This is especially significant for young volunteers, those who are in high school or college,” she said. “Volunteering can give youths and young adults the chance to learn more about careers and to include volunteer service on resumes. This is especially good for students planning to go to college because colleges look for well-rounded students. Volunteering demonstrates young people’s willingness to help their communities and shows they go above and beyond.”
Though volunteering means you’re not getting paid, some opportunities could give you extensive exposure, perhaps in preparation for employment with compensation.
Parents often encourage volunteering as a way to teach their children about community and giving back, Kilty said.
Volunteer opportunities in your community
If you are interested in volunteering in a local hospital or clinic, those who volunteer for Marshfield Clinic Health System help patients, their families and staff members. They provide valuable service for patients in various areas including waiting rooms, pharmacy, nursing units, pediatrics and with home delivered meals. Within these areas, they may provide:
- Greetings at information desks.
- Wayfinding and escort help.
- Pet therapy support.
- Hospital gift shop and coffee cart support.
- Clerical tasks.
If you’re interested in volunteering, Kilty advises looking into different opportunities to find a good fit and then ask questions.
“Knowing more about the service, expectations and time commitment is important,” she said, “because when you have that needed information you can start helping others. Don’t be afraid to make a change, either, especially if the situation doesn’t feel like a good fit.
“And the most valuable assets to bring to a volunteer opportunity are an open mind, willingness to help and a positive attitude.”
If you are looking for additional volunteer opportunities in your community, try:
- Talking to your local hospital or clinic.
- Reaching out to your local chamber of commerce or United Way to see if they know of any volunteer opportunities.
- Checking out online resources to search for volunteer opportunities within your local area.