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Many people say they don't volunteer because they don't have time. Their lives are already busy enough with school or work or family or some combination of all three.
People will make all sorts of excuses as to why they don't volunteer. There are always excuses to be made. There are always reasons to put off volunteering. We are masters at coming up with reasons why we shouldn't leave our couches and go out to help other people.
We are masters at complaining about the problems in the world but we are reluctant to get off our butts and try to help within our communities. Because that would require effort. Ranting on social media doesn't require a great deal of effort, but leaving your house to volunteer does.
I'm telling you, as someone who has spent a great deal of time volunteering in my life, that it is worth it. Every minute you spend volunteering is completely worth it.
I'm not saying you have to go out every night and volunteer. I'm not saying you need to devote your entire life towards it.
All I'm asking is for one hour a week. One hour a week of your time dedicated to someone other than you. Put your phone away, shut your television off, and go be involved with the people in your community.
Find a local food bank, soup kitchen, humane society, boys and girls club, sports group, or library. There are endless places that you can help out depending on what you are interested in or what you are good at. But it is important that you find something that you are good at or that you are interested in.
Volunteering is good for the soul. When you help other people, you step away from your own problems for a moment. You take a breath and you focus on other people. And you discover things about yourself.
Volunteering is a good way to meet people. You meet people from all walks of life. You meet people from all age groups and all experiences. You learn things from people and about people. You broaden your horizons and you learn there is more to the world than what you think there is.
Volunteering connects you to your community. Whether you are living in your community permanently or just passing through, volunteering gives you a chance to foster connections, build ties, and have people you can talk to. You will make friends and maybe even a pseudo-family with those you volunteer with if you do it long enough.
Volunteering gives you a sense of purpose. It is different than working a 9-5 job. It is different from going to class. No one is making you go other than yourself. You are forming a commitment to your community, to your organization. You are making a promise to a group and to people who rely on you to give that one hour. If you don't go, it is only you that you have to answer to. It is your guilt over disappointing the group you have joined.
Volunteering is a little addicting. It's one of those things that will surprise you. Once you start doing it, you will find you enjoy it. Perhaps not your first position, but when you find a place you belong in then you will become a little addicted to it. You will want to go volunteer. You will want to give more time. Because it is something different than working, it does something better for you. Money can't buy you happiness. Helping others will help you though.
So I encourage everyone to take one hour every week and give it to your community. Imagine the difference we all could make with just four hours a month. Imagine the good that could be done.
But don't take me at my word. Go give it a try. If you make one New Year Resolution stick for 2018, perhaps it should be to volunteer that one hour a week. Make a difference in the year to come. Make your community a better place.