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How Giving Gets You Far More

What do you have such a passion for that you give up your free time to support it? For some people, that’s a sport they play. For some, it’s a hobby like sewing or gardening. And for some, it’s being part of an organization in some sort of volunteer capacity. And whether you know it or not, the world runs on volunteers.

Scout leader. Children’s sports coach. Race official. Civic organization board member. Blood donor. Adopt-a-road clean-up crew. There are so many ways to give your time and talents to something you’re passionate about.

What is it for you? This week is your week – it’s National Volunteer Week. The word “volunteer” came into use in the 1600’s describing men in France who offered themselves up for military duty. It soon came to describe anyone who did work without expecting payment for it, and President Richard Nixon signed the executive order that recognized the value of volunteerism and volunteers in 1974 by codifying this week each year as National Volunteer Week.

People share the best parts of themselves through volunteering. In major catastrophes, the heroes are often the volunteers. In the Great Depression, millions of Americans volunteered to help those who lost their livelihoods, homes, and prospects. In natural disasters like Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, those who can help show up for those who need help, and in manmade calamities like the one on 9/11, those who ran towards the towers instead of away from them saved lives and in many cases, paid with their own. Through volunteerism, we remember the importance of humanity – that of others, as well as our own.

Let’s get crass for a moment – what’s in it for the volunteers? Clearly there must be great benefit to volunteering, otherwise the practice would have vanished with the dodo bird. Turns out that volunteers gain enormous benefits in exchange for the hours they give up:

  1. Social interaction with people who share their passion
  2. New skill development
  3. Leadership skill development
  4. Increased self-confidence and self-esteem
  5. Goal achievement
  6. Positive outlook gained by being part of the solution
  7. Feeling a connection to a brighter future

Want three little nudges to ease you into the volunteering habit, if you’re not there already? The world’s second-shortest podcast has you covered!

Want to understand how faith and volunteering can stave off depression? Here’s a Tiny Bite for that!

Want to navigate from where you are to great leadership? Here’s a Tiny Bite for that!

Want to be the best volunteer or leader of volunteers you can be? Here’s a Tiny Bite for that!

If you are a volunteer, thank you for the work you do to make the world a better place. If you’ve been thinking about volunteering, use this National Volunteer Week to decide where you want to plug your passion in for the good of others. And know this – you’ll gain so much more than you’ll ever give. Happy volunteering!

Sandy Weaver
Program Director, Center for Workplace Happiness

PS...want to live life on a higher vibe? Join the Wagalicious Life Online Community now!


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