Volunteer work provides an organization with a free resource to help it meet its mission or goals, which often include filling the gap between an individual or community’s resources and those provided by the government. In many cases, volunteers are crucial to help maintain life, as when meals are delivered to homebound people. Sometimes volunteer work, such as renovating a playground, benefits the broader community. And while volunteer work is important for the individuals and communities served, it also benefits the volunteer.
Volunteer work helps a variety of organizations. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that during the year ended September 2009, approximately 63.4 million people recognized the importance of volunteer work and gave their time through an organization at least once. Religious organizations benefited from the highest number of volunteer hours, followed by educational programs and programs benefiting young people.
Volunteer work comes in all shapes and sizes. Large organizations such as Habitat for Humanity provide an important service in communities around the world. Habitat builds decent, affordable homes for low-income families; as more people volunteer, more homes can be built. On a smaller scale, local organizations play an important role by building safe play areas or raising funds to provide music lessons for low-income children.
Many people believe volunteering will consume their free time. But according to a July 2009 article published by National Public Radio, micro-volunteering lets people volunteer in small bits of time, usually through their computer or cell phone. Micro volunteers play an important role by arranging car service for someone’s doctor visit, or by volunteering to judge entries in an essay contest. Each action can be accomplished in a small amount of time, but has a big effect in combination with the efforts of other volunteers.
You can do volunteer work from your home, in your neighborhood or in almost any setting around the world. This flexibility makes it easy to find projects that are convenient and suit your life goals. Volunteer from home and develop your knitting skills to make caps for premature babies. Or build your professional and personal skills in locations far from home with volunteer groups like the Peace Corps that work exclusively overseas.
Volunteer work is important for your health. The Corporation for National and Community Service says that volunteering improves psychological and physical health. Volunteers reap the benefits of feeling a personal sense of accomplishment while building social networks that, in turn, support them in times of stress.
Volunteer work is also an important part of your resume. A history of volunteering demonstrates your commitment to the community and a willingness to work for the betterment of others. Many businesses have their own volunteer program, or support local programs. Employees who volunteer build a positive reputation for their business in the community’s eyes.