For better or for worse, many high schools across the nation make it mandatory for high school students to volunteer in some capacity over the course of four years. While teens might think that community service is just a way to give back to society, what they might not realize is that there are some personal benefits that can be gleaned from volunteering. Read on to learn about the benefits of giving back to the community.
Volunteering Can Help You Meet People
You probably know a lot of people your own age and who live in your city or town. Depending on where you volunteer, however, you can get to know many different types of people. They might be older or younger than you, from a different part of your city or county, or different from you in other ways. This can help you develop a more well-rounded view of not only your local area but of the world at large.
You might be surprised by the friends you make. A teen might not normally have the opportunity to spend any length of time with those who are elderly, homeless, under the age of 5, or from a more rural or urban area, but by volunteering, you can not only meet these folks but also serve them in a way that might change their lives. In addition, you’ll meet other volunteers who share the same interests as you; they might be very different from you in other ways, but a common interest can help you forge a friendship.
Volunteering Can Help You Gain Confidence
If you haven’t yet found something that you’re great at, volunteering can help you feel good about what you’re contributing to the community. This can boost your confidence levels and give you more self-confidence. For teens who are struggling with their self-esteem, volunteering could be a great way to get involved and put yourself out there.
For teens who have social anxiety, volunteering can give them something that they’re good at and that allows them to help other people. This can go a long way toward helping socially anxious teens to feel more secure about themselves and can reduce their anxiety levels. The boost in confidence can also help teens who have depression; not only does volunteering coax them out of the house but it also gives them something to look forward to. If you struggle with either of these issues, give volunteering a try!
Volunteering Looks Great on College Applications
For teens who are college bound, a volunteer position will help boost your college applications. As you already know, admissions officers look for well-rounded candidates, and volunteering is part of what makes someone a productive citizen.
In addition, depending on the volunteer opportunity chosen, it might show that you are serious about your intended major. For example, if you volunteer at a preschool or tutor children who are struggling in math, that will supplement your application if you are looking forward to pursuing a major in elementary education. Those who want to be nurses or physical therapists might see that a volunteer position in a hospital or nursing home is helpful.
Volunteering Can Teach You New Skills
No matter what type of organization you volunteer with, the job will teach you some new skills. You might think that you’re just walking dogs and changing kitty litter, for instance, if you volunteer at your local animal shelter, but you will also be learning about proper pet care, communicating with animals, and what makes a good and responsible pet owner.
Whether you’re working with children, the elderly, the homeless, or animals, you will be learning valuable communication skills as well as tangible skills that you can use in college, in your future jobs, and in other areas of your life. One good example is building homes for Habitat for Humanity: You’ll learn carpentry skills, how to use power tools safely, what goes into building a home, and more. Another example would be if you are editing a newsletter for a nonprofit organization. You will learn the jargon used in the industry and how the organization is meeting a need in the community that you might not have known existed.
Volunteering Can Lead to a Passion
As a teenager, you are likely thinking about how you want to spend your time in the future. What kind of career do you want to have? What do you want to learn more about? Volunteering can lead to a passion for the type of work you are doing or the type of service the organization is providing. Serving up meals in a soup kitchen can lead to a passion for cooking, for serving food, or for meeting the needs of the homeless.
Similarly, volunteer opportunities can also help you find out what you do not want to do. Maybe you thought that you wanted to work with young children but found out through your volunteer position at a daycare that you feel bored and frustrated much of the time. This is a great lesson to learn before you go to college to pursue a degree in a field that you end up not liking.
Volunteering Is Good for the Body
Finally, volunteering in almost any capacity is good for your body. Unless you are doing it from home, it will get you out of your chair, out of the house, and active in the community. You’ll be getting some exercise in most volunteer opportunities, whether that entails playing with puppies at an animal shelter, moving boxes of canned goods at a food pantry, offering water to patients in a hospital, or teaching toddlers during a Sunday school class. In fact, for teen in particular, a study has shown that it can also reduce BMI (body mass index), inflammation, and cholesterol levels.
If you are a teen who is looking for something worthwhile to do, consider volunteering in your community. Talk to your guidance counselor, an employee at your local house of worship, or someone who works at an organization you are interested in to find out what opportunities are available in your area. You can also check out sites like VolunteerMatch.org to find volunteer opportunities.