In high schools across the country, a wide array of clubs and activities are available for the aspirant student. Lacrosse teams, chess clubs, and science competitions: there’s something for everyone. While these clubs are amazing, there is another aspect to extracurriculars that isn’t school structured: volunteering.
Some schools have mandatory volunteer hours (a mandate debated in another article), but many students search for the quickest way to get the maximum hours possible. This causes the stressed out student to seek out volunteer opportunities with the least amount of effort and maximum amount of hours. While this can buff up your resume, these fluff volunteer opportunities don’t benefit you or others in the long run.
Not many see volunteering as a way to explore and find themselves, especially in high school, when everyone is going through their quarter-life crises. But that’s the main idea of volunteering: making a positive impact in the lives of others by selflessly giving. However, volunteering benefits you and your community. Being thrown into a real life situation helps you develop important skills that impress prospective employers and allow you to grow as an individual. In fact, a survey by TimeBank showed that 73% of employers choose candidates with volunteer experience as opposed to those who do not, and 94% of employers believe that volunteering improves skills needed in the workplace.
A great way to get hours and give back is by volunteering at a retirement home. Old age homes are always in need of volunteers, especially younger people. They rely on younger volunteers to brighten up the senior’s day by interacting with them, be it by visiting them or playing chess or painting nails, to provide both parties with new experiences.
Volunteering at a retirement home has many benefits. First of all, it’s chicken soup for the volunteer’s and the voluntee’s soul; creating unique relationships with people who may not have been in your life. It’s also a meaningful way to make connections and explore possible career options. Thinking about being a doctor or nurse? Volunteering at a senior home gives you access to people in those positions, allowing you to see what it’s actually like to be doing those jobs.
John Donne once said, “No man is an island.” This holds true for volunteering as well! Volunteering at a retirement is a fabulous way to give back to a part of your community you might not have been exposed to before. Senior care is becoming more and more important as the baby boomers age, raising the demand for volunteers to help out.
Not only does volunteering at a home help you, it benefits those living in these residences. Many elderly people don’t have much interaction apart from doctors and nurses at these homes; be a fresh face that brings a smile to theirs. Spending a few hours a week with a senior makes them happier and allows you to make friends that you wouldn’t find in class. The men and women at these homes can learn from you and vice versa, creating a mutualistic environment.
Volunteering allows you to give back and returns the favor. It gives you a sense of accomplishment and do some good in your neighborhood.
Giving back to your community, no matter how big or small the gesture may be, makes an impact on yourself and those around you. The selfless act of volunteering is a skill that should be developed early and practiced often, because in the end, it will (and does!) pay off.
It’s true that volunteering is an amazing way to give back to your community while learning new skills and getting recognition. Not only do you have something snazzy for your resume, but it also provides you with new experiences, makes you feel good, and teaches you things you can’t find in a textbook. Find ways to get involved with a retirement home or senior center in your community.