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Volunteerism: long-term impact, long-term benefits

Jun 21, 2011

Women doing Yoga

Like yoga, volunteerism can reduce stress

 photo credit: domestictimes photo licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0 

By: Sarah Moreland

Good news: studies have shown (pdf) that volunteering can reduce stress, improve your physical and mental health, and help you develop strong teamwork, problem solving and networking skills. If you’ve ever volunteered at one-time or short-term service events, you’ve experienced some of those benefits yourself. 

Even better news: longer term volunteer projects on a weekly or monthly basis intensify the rewards of serving.

  • NETWORKING: If you volunteer at a one-time event, there is a chance you won’t see the strangers you’ve helped again in the near future. Volunteering for positions like a classroom tutor or a concession stand worker for one day a week allows you to develop relationships with the people you serve. Over time, you’ll be able to see exactly how much you’ve contributed to someone else’s life.
  • EXCITEMENT: You know that warm and happy feeling you get after serving your community? Imagine having that satisfaction to look forward to on a regular basis, and you can understand how long-term volunteerism boosts your overall mood in the long run.
  • EMPLOYMENT: Ask any college admissions officer or job recruiter what contributes to a fantastic application or resume, and chances are they’ll mention community service. No matter your situation, whether you’re getting back to work after raising children or are a recent graduate looking for your first job, extended volunteer commitments are a plus.
  • LEADERSHIP: Show loyalty to a cause or event, and you might be asked to help organize a fundraiser, contribute suggestions about how to improve a project, or step up to lead a new initiative. Becoming an “expert” at your project also means you could have the opportunity to train new volunteers and inspire them to get involved more. 
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