Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Chris Gass
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

The benefits of volunteering

The Green Guy


The season of giving. When is it? Support likely ranges for a variety of times through the year, but I’d argue that the season never truly ends as giving is a deed that can, and should, be done all year round. Now, giving of course is by no means a narrowly defined thing. One can give in many ways through either resources or time, each of which are important in advancing the good of society.

However, I’d wager that your $20 shared to a national organization won’t carry the same benefit as you getting involved within your community. Donating alone just doesn’t quite connect you with the issue and likely won’t encourage you to be a champion for a cause. Donations are important but there seems a disconnect at times with the value that someone’s time and energy can be. In fact, estimates of this value have calculated around, sometimes even above, $20 an hour for volunteered time. Seems clear that there is a big return from just a few hours you share to volunteer.

Now by no means can we size the value of volunteering through money alone. That’s an injustice to the wider array of benefits gained. We can all probably imagine the worth an organization or outfit finds in volunteered time (reduced expenses, more impact, better community involvement and so forth). But how about what you might take away in sharing your coveted time? Let me toss out a few key hitters.

One of the greatest takeaways, in my opinion, are the connections that can be made. Networking is all the rage these days, and for good reason, as who you know can really influence the possibilities that come your way. Volunteering serves as an outstanding opportunity to meet not only fellow community members, but those who may share similar interests as you. You may also meet people that you generally wouldn’t have had the opportunity to otherwise.

Tagging along with that point, meeting new people might mean learning something new. In turn, volunteering opens your horizons by learning new skills or developing what you already have. Skills aren’t simply technical know-how but might be more aligned with abilities in communication, teamwork, leadership, organization, time-management, and other complimenting qualities that are best grown through experience. Not to skip over the fact that you may learn new perspectives, ideas, and general knowledge depending on the volunteer activity, which serves to give you a more well-rounded character. For example, volunteering as a citizen water monitor will teach you factors around water quality and you may come away with a more observant and appreciative eye for your nearby waterway.

The last one I’ll mention, and possibly the hallmark reason for voluntary service, is knowing that you’re adding value to the community. After all, each of us has a vast set of skills and talents that when shared are impressively impactful. And what can compare to the feeling of having a lasting impact? The beauty too is that there aren’t prerequisites to be an involved community member. Instead, it’s merely sharing your time and working towards a worthwhile goal. In turn, you also set an example that encourages others to get involved, especially the watchful youth.

Don’t hesitate at the opportunity to volunteer. It’s a worthy use of your time, I promise.


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