For many people, volunteering requires extra effort and an open heart. When you think of volunteering you may think of how it benefits only the person in need. In reality, as a volunteer you build leadership skills and gain real-life experience.
I live by this motto day in and day out. I am so involved in community activities that the standing joke from the Enterprise-Record is trying not to photograph me.
Whether it be covering my “sex and relationships” beat for The Orion to attending volunteer opportunities like Up ‘til Dawn, I have become a regular customer to everything I feel will benefit someone else.
I have done small things like donating my last dollar to someone in need to being a co-captain on the Relay for Life Survivor/Caretaker Committee for Chico, and more recently, shaved my head for cancer solidarity at Up ‘til Dawn’s Bald is Beautiful event.
There are so many benefits to volunteering besides the warm fuzzy feeling I get when I do something for someone else.
Here are my top choices:
• What goes around, comes around
I have always had the mentality that if I were ever in a position where I needed help, I would want someone to help me. This could be anything from changing a flat tire on the side of the road to asking to borrow money. Good acts lead to it coming back somewhere in your life.
• Great networking
It reminds me of the movie “The Pursuit of Happiness,” where Will Smith’s character is literally down on his luck. But through perseverance, he takes those experiences and lands a job that makes him a billionaire. Volunteering has led to some unlikely connections that I wouldn’t have been able to make elsewhere.
• New experiences
I have had many experiences that I wouldn’t have dreamed of having. Recently, I went to a conference for Relay for Life and met a lot of cancer survivors and caretakers. That passion led me to shave my head for cancer solidarity and from there, I participated in the Chico State Up ‘til Dawn for nine hours straight writing more than 100 letters to raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
• Meet new people
I have met a lot of people that are passionate about the same things I am. I have volunteered with my sorority sisters before on many things like the Kristina Chesterman Foundation and the Heart Walk. We share a common goal in volunteering our time to educate, raise awareness and help the community in a lot of ways. Through that, I have met many people from different walks of life and have been able to grow friendships I never thought I would have.
• Great stories
There are countless stories that I could write forever and would take multiple books to convey. One story is how a homeless woman approached me asking if I could spare $5 so she could get food. I dug into my wallet, pulled out the crisp $5 bill and handed it over. With tears in her eyes, she hugged me and thanked me by giving me a green necklace I still treasure today.
There are so many ways to volunteer and the benefits vary for each person but remember that every small act counts, even if it is a few dollars here and a few hours there.