As students, our lives are already busy enough. With more readings than we know what to do with, classes and labs we have to attend, and nights out that we absolutely can’t miss, it is often hard to fit anything else into our schedules. However, if it means missing your workout of the day, taking an hour off of those readings, or missing that afternoon nap, the one activity that I encourage everyone to squeeze into their very busy schedules would be volunteering.
Many people see volunteering as a burden in their lives. It’s something they put their time and effort into doing, but don’t even get paid. Doesn’t seem that fair, does it? Well, many studies done by universities worldwide, including Harvard (yes, the really fancy, smart-people school in the States), show that volunteering has so many awesome benefits and it can even help make people healthier. That alone is enough to make me want to get involved! For those who aren’t so convinced, here is a list of some benefits, highlighting not only how beneficial, but also rewarding volunteering actually is. As students in KW, it is crucial that we escape our little bubble and help out the community. Throughout this article, different places will be mentioned that provide great volunteering opportunities, so take a look and keep in mind that by getting involved you’ll be increasing the quality of life for many people in need.
You will meet new people, and make new friends
Meeting new people is not necessarily something we tend to put at the top of our lists of things to accomplish for the day. It can be an awkward experience – having to introduce yourself without hiding behind a screen is such an odd thought in today’s society. However, before you know it, the new person you meet could be someone who makes a positive impact in your life. When volunteering, you will meet people who have the same interests as you. They are likely caring, thoughtful, and interested in helping others, since they are out in the world doing a good deed without asking for much in return. This person could very well be older than you, but there is nothing wrong with that. They could have advice to give you, tricks that will make each day brighter, or even stories to tell that show the struggles they’ve overcome in life. You could also meet someone younger than you. Someone who may need guidance, and you could be the person to help them with that. Regardless of who you meet, these are people who could positively impact your life. You will look forward to seeing them each week when you go to volunteer and hopefully keep in touch with them after your volunteer placement is finished. For instance, I volunteered at a hospital and one of my favorite people I looked forward to seeing each week was a 70-year-old man. He was so thankful that he was still able to volunteer, and each week he showed up with a smile on his face. He taught me not to stress over the little things in life, and to be thankful that I’m still able to help out in my community.
The Queen Street Commons Café in Kitchener is a great place to volunteer at, and an even better place to make friends. It is full of both student and adult volunteers who are out there trying to make a difference in the world. For more information and how to apply, follow this link. Remember, doing good in the world can be as simple as taking one hour out of your day to give to a good cause! https://www.theworkingcentre.org/customer-service/2430-volunteering-queen-street-commons-cafe
In the section above, you learned about meeting new people and making new friends. Another benefit to meeting new people is the references you may have the opportunity to get from them. As students, we have to start building up our resumes and making connections out in the real world. Having different volunteering experiences on your resume is already a plus in the eyes of any company, and getting reference letters from a worker at one of these places is even better. Besides the letters you may get from these companies, having them to call when you might need advice for something is always a plus. When thinking about a place to volunteer at that references would look impeccable from, a good option is Grand River Hospital in Kitchener. You will have to put in a bit more work to volunteer at a hospital, but that only makes it look even better on your resume as companies will be aware of the amount of work and commitment you put into helping out such a good cause. Follow this link for more information! http://www.grhosp.on.ca/help/volunteering/volunteer-opportunities
It has health benefits, and can be good for your mind and body
You would think that the stress of having to add one more thing to your day would be bad for your health. More stress = higher blood pressure, and that is not something any of us want. However, with the stress of school, work, and whatever else you have on your mind building up, volunteering is actually a good way to escape the “real world,” and do something that will lower your stress levels. For instance, you could have a lot of anger and stress built up from whatever is bothering you. When you make meaningful connections to people who need the help, you are subconsciously releasing that anger and stress, and will leave your volunteer placement in a much happier mood. Volunteering will also increase your self-confidence. It is a way for you to show people the amazing talents you have to offer. After a few shifts of volunteering, your confidence will increase and you will feel as if you are able to be yourself in a way that didn’t seem possible to you before. A great place to check out is English at First. This is a government run organization that provides free education and childcare to newcomers of Canada. I have volunteered in the childcare section before, and always felt less stressed when I left. Playing with children, and experiencing their innocence is an amazing thing to see, and this placement definitely changed the way I see the world today. Check it out here: http://englishatfirst.com/index.php/our-team-2/
Yes, volunteering is fun. Not only is it a fun way to meet new people, escape the stress in our lives, and interact with those both young and old, but it is also a fun way to explore your passions and interests. Remember when we were in Grade 10 and were told we had to choose courses that would impact the career path we had to follow for the rest of our lives? Scary moment, wasn’t it? Well, let’s be real. I’m pretty sure that we have all changed our minds quite a few times since then, and may still be iffy about what we want to do when we graduate. That’s just another benefit to volunteering; you are able to get a feel for different companies and opportunities, see which ones you like best, and find a place that you can envision yourself working at in the years to come. The following link will provide you with a vast range of different volunteer opportunities in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. Please take a few minutes to check it out, and find a place that suits you best. https://www.volunteerkw.ca/index.php?MenuItemID=20#
There are many other positive aspects of volunteering. The ones listed above are the ones that I hope encourage people to do better in the world. Volunteering is truly an amazing experience and is something that I hope more people, especially students, try to fit into their very busy schedules. Although you aren’t initially getting paid for volunteering, you never know if a company that you are volunteering at will hire you when you finish school. So please take a few minutes to check out the links posted above and help out your community. The benefits of volunteering outweigh the cons and it can make you a better, happier, and healthier person overall.