Why Volunteering Can Make a Big Difference in your Small Town and your Life
What makes one small community different from another? Time and again you will find that it is the people — especially those who volunteer their time and talents — that make a community special.
Nonprofits and other organizations are driven by a mission to make life better in their communities — whether by producing annual festivals to celebrate local heritage, supporting a certain population, or developing projects to improve quality of life.
These organizations rely on the help of volunteers to power their efforts in making their small towns — or even big cities — better.
TCT has had the privilege of serving and working with many dedicated volunteers that keep the special events and traditions of their communities going year after year. Through our Sponsorships and Grants, we have supported events such as:
- Washunga Days
- Redneck in Ramona
- White City’s Independence Day Celebration
- Hope Heritage Days
- Lincolnville’s Octoberfest
Such events not only enrich life for fellow community members, but they also enrich the lives of volunteers themselves.
Studies have shown that dedicating your time as a volunteer helps you make new friends, boosts your social skills and instills happiness.
- Volunteering increases your self-confidence, self-esteem and satisfaction with life.
- Doing good for others provides a natural sense of accomplishment.
- Your role as a volunteer can give you a sense of pride and identity, helping you to have a positive view of your life and future goals.
- Volunteering reduces the risk of depression because it eliminates a key risk factor for depression: social isolation.
- Volunteering is healthy for all ages. But it’s especially good for older adults because it has been shown to lower mortality rates and lessen symptoms of chronic pain and heart disease.
Researchers at the London School of Economics* examined the relationship between volunteering and happiness in a large group of American adults. They found the more people volunteered, the happier they were. In fact, when compared with people who never volunteered, the odds of being “very happy” rose 7% among those who volunteer monthly, 12% for people who volunteer every two to four weeks and 16% among those who volunteer weekly. *reference, Francesca Borgonovi (2008) article Doing well by doing good.
Volunteering is a good way to explore your interests, and your experience will be more fulfilling if you pick volunteer opportunities that match up with them. For example:
- If you enjoy history, you could help out at a museum;
- If you enjoy reading, a library might be the best place for you to volunteer;
- If you enjoy sports and working with kids, you might consider helping with a youth sports team.
Also, think of volunteering as more than just physically helping with an event or project. If you face challenges such as lack of transportation, time constraints, or a physical disability, home-based volunteering might be right for you. Many times you can help via phone or computer. And in today’s digital age, many organizations need help with email and websites. Just remember to get enough social contact when doing home-based volunteering and that someone is available to support you should you have questions.
Make sure that the volunteer experience you choose is right for your skills, goals, and schedule. Ask about the time commitment involved and flexibility of hours. Also find out if there is any training involved. Volunteering can be a great way to develop new skills. But if the opportunity doesn’t match your expectations or experience, speak up and don’t force yourself into a bad fit.
Most importantly: have fun! The best volunteer experiences are positive for volunteer and the organization!
For more information on volunteering in the area, visit the Flint Hills Volunteer Center. We also have some other helpful community information on our website.
Do you volunteer? Share your volunteer experience with us on our page. Use the hashtag #TCTVolunteers and include the charity or organization that you volunteer for. Have a picture? Include that too!