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Volunteering is part of a strong community


July 19, 2019

The season of giving. When is it? I’d argue that the season never truly ends, as giving can be, and should be, year-round. One can give in many ways, through either resources or time; each is important in advancing the social good.

I’d wager that giving $20 to a national organization won’t carry the same benefit as getting involved within your community. It just doesn’t connect you with the issue the way volunteering does.

An organization benefits from its volunteers’ time and efforts in many ways — e.g., reduced expenses, greater impact, increased community involvement and so forth.

But how about what you might take away from sharing your valuable time?

One of the greatest takeaways, in my opinion, is making connections. Networking is all the rage and for good reason — who you know can really influence the possibilities that come your way. Volunteering is an outstanding opportunity to meet not only fellow community members, but those who may share similar interests with you. Furthermore, you may meet people that you generally wouldn’t have met otherwise.

And meeting new people might mean learning something new. In turn, volunteering opens your horizons to improving your skills and learning new ones — not simply technical know-how, but those aligned with social interaction such as communication, teamwork, leadership, organization, time management, and other complementing qualities that are best developed through experience.

You may also gain new perspectives, ideas, and general knowledge, which all serve to make you a more well-rounded character. For example, after volunteering as a citizen water monitor you might just develop an eye for stream features and fluctuations that follow the seasons or storm events.

The last one I’ll mention, and possibly the hallmark reason for voluntary service, is knowing that you are adding value to the community. After all, what can compare to the feeling of having a lasting impact? We all have skills and talents which can be shared toward a worthwhile goal. If nothing else, taking time to volunteer sets the example, especially for our youth, to be involved outside of one’s own interests.

Don’t hesitate at the opportunity to volunteer. It’s a worthy use of your time, I promise.

Chris Gass is a Minnesota GreenCorps member with the Carlton Soil and Water Conservation District whose columns will focus on environmental topics and stewardship, particularly in cities and towns.


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