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Volunteering brings positive impacts to volunteers and organizations involved

By: Kenneth Smith, M.D.

Volunteering is often seen as a selfless act – one that can have a positive impact and is done for the greater good of a community. While this is correct, all individuals regardless of age who give back through volunteer work also have the opportunity to enjoy the positive impact it can have in their own life. Volunteering can improve a person’s health, career, help build relationships and individuals can even discover new hobbies and skills. Organizations are always looking for individuals who wish to give their time to support their mission and efforts so individuals have a wide-range of options to choose from.

Below are tips on ways to get involved in your community and start volunteering:

1.  Research. There are a lot of organizations with different objectives that need help and it can be an overwhelming process when trying to decide which one to choose. To facilitate this decision, first decide what you want to accomplish as a volunteer. Is there a cause you are passionate about or do you want to have a special skill that you want to use to help others? What neighborhood do you want to work in? Being specific in what you would like to participate, this will narrow down volunteer opportunities that will fit your needs.

2.  Contact local businesses and organizations for leads and connections. These include places of worship, community libraries, or museums or even your workplace. These places can help you get connected with organizations that they work with. Many employers also encourage employees to give back and have programs established to facilitate the process. For example, Inter Valley Health Plan has Helping Hands Week where employees give back to non-profit organizations by making hats, scarves, blankets and other helpful items for charities that support children and seniors in need.

3.  Find out the expectations of the organization and volunteer. Once you’ve picked what organization you would like to volunteer, contact a representative to ask questions about the position, your responsibilities and overall expectations or to take a tour of the facility.

4.  Create your own opportunity. If nothing seems to be a good fit, consider creating your own volunteer opportunity. Start an initiative to create a program at work or the organization of your choice. Other forms of volunteering and ways to give back including fundraising.

Volunteering is an act that not only helps people and organization, but it also provides positive benefits to the individual volunteering in all aspects of their life. The most important thing to realize is the huge impact organization and volunteers can attain from these acts.

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