Benefits of Volunteering at Christian Health and Anywhere
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Volunteerism offers a wealth of benefits – not just for the cause you’re advocating for, but for you as well! Being a volunteer can be incredibly fulfilling and offers the ability to learn new skills, meet new people, help your career, ease stress, and boost happiness. No matter if you donate your time and efforts to a community like Christian Health or volunteer for another cause or nonprofit of your choice, the following major perks will make your experience a worthwhile and enriching one.
Finding a Sense of Purpose and Community
Helping others through volunteer work is a great way to feel part of something bigger than yourself. Giving back to the community and advocating for a cause important to you will give you a great sense of purpose and meaning. Being a valued member of your community by doing your part and connecting with those within it for the greater good might even inspire you to get even more involved, such as through local civic activities or other types of advocacy. “It’s a win-win for everybody,” says Caroline Silva, Volunteer Coordinator at Christian Health.
“A common theme I get from our volunteers is that they are getting so much more out of volunteering than they are giving,” says Ms. Silva. “It’s that sense of purpose. I have to remind them – you are really doing so much. Staff has to do certain things, but a volunteer can take someone that’s down in the dumps and sit outside with them on a sunny day.”
“They feel a part of something. They feel included, they feel needed.”
Making Friends and Improving Social Skills
Gathering with others who share your passion and care deeply about the same issues is a great way to form new friendships. Volunteers come from all different walks of life, opening you up to meet people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives. It will also help you sharpen your social skills by forcing you out of your comfort zone. Depending on the type of volunteer work you choose, you may have to speak publicly, contact strangers to advocate for your cause, or serve as a caregiver – all roles that require socializing and will significantly improve your active communication skills.
“I definitely see it building confidence. People come in a bit nervous,” jokes Ms. Silva. “It’s overwhelming. When you see how accepting the residents and patients are – they’re honored. It makes a volunteer feel good – they’re making a difference.”
Learning New Things and Gaining Valuable Experience
The hands-on experience of volunteering is a great way to learn new skills that may help you both professionally and personally. Time management, networking, public speaking, teamwork, problem solving, and organization are all useful skills that are honed in volunteer work. These useful talents and your experience in volunteerism make great additions to your resume and will help you stand out against other candidates to future employers.
You may also learn some new hobbies, too! “We have one resident who wants to plant flowers – a volunteer might not know a lot about gardening and can learn about that,” says Ms. Silva. At Christian Health, volunteers can also join residents and patients for activities such as knitting, painting, or playing Scrabble. “We had a teen volunteer come in and play Scrabble with two adult residents, and he hadn’t played Scrabble on aboard before,” says Ms. Silva. “But he played, and they had a great time. The two residents were over the moon with the one-on-one attention.”
Improving Mental and Physical Health
Getting out of the house and using your energy to volunteer also has many benefits for your health. “There is so much walking you can choose to do if you’re able,” says Ms. Silva about volunteering at Christian Health. “Transporting residents and patients to and from the beauty salon, to and from rehab, to and from their rooms.” If you are an older adult who has retired, volunteering for a cause is a great way to stay active and healthy.
Mental health, especially in recent times of lockdowns and pandemic anxiety, is just as important as your physical well-being. Getting involved in volunteerism is a great way to battle isolation and to stay motivated to be productive – great ways to keep your mind as healthy as your body.
“When you know that you’re expected to be somewhere – I’m counting on them to show up, so [they] do it. I think that gets you out of being isolated – interacting with the community – that builds self-esteem.”
Establishing Career Goals
If you’re at a standstill in your career or looking for inspiration for a professional change, getting involved with volunteerism might help you figure out what you’re passionate about or give you relevant experience to start a new career. For example, volunteering as a caregiver in an assisted-living community might make you realize you’re perfect for a fulfilling career in health care.
“In a rehab gym, if someone is thinking of becoming a physical or occupational therapist, they can come and shadow our therapists,” says Ms. Silva. “The therapists write a ton of recommendations if the college students want to get a masters or PhD in physical therapy.”
There’s nothing like helping others to give you a confidence boost. Making a difference in your community provides a sense of accomplishment and leads to increased fulfillment in your life. If there’s one thing you can feel good about, it’s the value you add to the lives of others by volunteering your time, energy, and caring.
“It builds confidence,” says Ms. Silva. “Trying new things… challenging yourself… being empathetic to people who might be in pain… building relationships with the residents – you walk into their room, and they’re happy to see you, they recognize you, they smile at you.”
“Our staff is so appreciative of volunteers. They understand volunteers really add something to our community. Staff, residents, patients, and their families sing their praises.”
For more information on lending your time and talents to the Volunteer Program at Christian Health, please contact Caroline Silva, Volunteer and Community Outreach Coordinator, at (201) 848-5797 or csilva@ChristianHealthNJ.org.