“The essence of life is to serve others and do good.” Aristotle
The culture of volunteering is weaved in the fabric of America; it's what makes it exceptional. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, in 2018, 77.4 million Americans volunteered their time and expertise for a total of 6.9 billion hours served. Why? Mostly because they want to improve the community around them.
For the past seven years, I've worked with the Wellness for Growth Foundation, a wonderful nonprofit with the mission of empowering disadvantaged Hispanic women through educational programs in the greater Houston area. Even though I dedicate around 300 hours annually (the US average is 50 hours per year) when I listen to the beneficiaries' feedback on how the programs have impacted their lives, I feel fully rewarded.
Before the W4G, I volunteered casually here and there. But then I got to a point when I began feeling a draw to give back in a more meaningful way, and that's when I found W4G. Or it found me. I was looking for an organization where my work could have a direct impact on its target beneficiaries. I had worked for other organizations, but none captured my interest the way the W4G did. The W4G felt authentic because its focus was on yielding results. What I wasn’t expecting was the realization that no matter how much work and effort I put in, what I was getting in return was invariably more powerful.
I used to view giving back as my duty, a fair price for my comfortable life. My perspective significantly changed when I started understanding the actual impact of the W4G's work. Not to be forgotten is the camaraderie among a team working enthusiastically in the frontlines or behind the scenes to achieve a common goal. It felt like I was volunteering more for my benefit than for the benefit of others.
Nowadays, we're so laser-focused on our busy lives that we forget that volunteering is a form of self-care. Even when you think you are doing something for others, volunteering will fill your heart and put your life into perspective. Volunteering will reduce your stress level and improve your mood.
If you aren't involved with a nonprofit, why not start with something small today? According to volunteerhub.com, there are more than 1.8 million active nonprofits in the United States. I'm pretty sure you'll find one that will warm your heart. Are you hesitant about adding one more thing to your to-do list? It is possible to find the time for a short weekly commitment if you prioritize it. And you'll feel better for it. Google "volunteering in America" and see what comes up.
Do you currently volunteer your time and expertise? Tell us about how you got started and what would you recommend to others who want to start. Share your experiences with us!