The next time you’re thinking about offering assistance, remember that while volunteering offers vital help to people, communities and causes, the benefits can be even greater for you, the volunteer. The right match can help you to find friends, connect with the community, learn new skills, and even advance your career.
There are many ways one can serve, and whether big or small, each gesture makes an impact. If you need to ease into it, you can start small by performing simple acts of kindness for someone who needs help. Prepare a meal. Help with laundry and errands. Pull their trashcans to the curb on trash pickup day. Sit or play games with a senior or shut-in. Visit the local VA, hang out with the veterans and listen to their stories. There are countless ways in which you can help others. At Central Oklahoma Habitat, for example, we work with more than 7,000 volunteers each year – that’s a lot of impact!
Curious about where to start?
If you’re feeling the need to volunteer, but aren’t sure where to begin, start by focusing on what you feel strongly about, and then look for local or national organizations that match your passion. Talk to family and friends, and pick an organization that will utilize your skills and possibly teach you new ones.
Be sure to select volunteer opportunities that fit your schedule. Volunteering doesn’t have to take over your life to be beneficial. In fact, research shows that just two to three hours per week — or about 100 hours a year — can confer the most benefits to both you and your chosen cause. The important thing is to volunteer only the amount of time that is comfortable to you. Volunteering should feel like a fun and rewarding hobby, not another chore on your to-do list.
Resources that many people find helpful are volunteer match websites such as VolunteerMatch, Idealist or National and Community Service.
What if I have limited mobility – can I still volunteer?
People with disabilities or chronic health conditions can still benefit greatly from volunteering. In fact, research has shown that adults with disabilities or health conditions ranging from hearing and vision loss to heart disease, diabetes or digestive disorders all show improvement after volunteering.
Whether due to a disability, lack of transportation or time constraints, many people today choose to volunteer their time virtually, or via phone or computer. In today’s digital age, many organizations need help with writing, graphic design, email, and other web-based tasks. Some organizations may require you to attend an initial training session or periodic meetings, while others can be conducted completely remotely. In any volunteer situation, make sure that you are getting enough social contact, and that the organization is available to support you if you have questions.
Giving to others can also help protect your mental and physical health. It can reduce stress, combat depression, keep you mentally stimulated and provide a sense of purpose. While it’s true that the more you volunteer, the more benefits you’ll experience, volunteering doesn’t have to involve a long-term commitment or take a huge amount of time out of your busy day. Giving in even simple ways can help those in need and improve your health and happiness.
Join the Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity volunteer team
Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity is always looking for volunteers. When you volunteer with us, you’re helping Oklahoma families who need affordable homes. We work with more than 7,000 volunteers and year, and every time they hammer a nail, paint a wall, lay a strip of sod or install a wheelchair ramp, they’re making a true difference in the lives of an Oklahoma family.
If working on the job site isn’t quite your thing, we also need helpers who can work in our office or ReStore, or who can serve on one of our committees, among other things.
For more information about volunteering with Central Oklahoma Habitat, just check out our website, www.cohfh.org, to see what piques your interest.