Many years ago (1958), I was sucked into an extensive mountain search and rescue operation, and it changed my life forever, with many positive benefits. I suggest that volunteering for an activity of your choosing will have many positive influences for you as well. I focus on active outdoor pursuits, but there are many other ways to volunteer and reap the benefits.
The benefits are numerous, sometimes obvious and sometimes rather subtle. I emphasize them because volunteers are often portrayed as noble, self sacrificing persons - noble and all that. That might be true to an extent, but I have realized that the rewards received outweigh the effort expended by a long shot.
My mountain rescue experience was fairly active and often useful, but I also saw how often people with other, abilities contributed. it really helps the victim if they are treated by a nurse or an MD, supplementing your more modest first aid skills. In general, I say many times how people with very different abilities could come together, cooperate, and achieve a satisfactory outcome. Working with other volunteers, I learned more about supervisory and management techniques thn I ever did in my work place. This has paid off in my professional life.
There are the strong social bonds that develop between people as you work together under stress. These can be extremely rewarding
There are other ways to volunteer, as well. Consider making regular blood donations. There always seems to be a need and no effort is involved. You lose pound or two effortlessly and the snacks and drinks provided at the end of your session are great!
You can also work at a polling place on election day. Often there is pay, but, in my experience, it is very nominal, considering the long hours involved. Properly run polling places are absolutely essential to our society and good workers are always in demand.
Other opportunities abound. Look around and find an activity that can benefit from your contribution and go for it! You will be glad you did!
Written in the spirit of Christmas on this Christmas Eve, 2021....
I couldn't agree more, @hikermor , and thanks for writing this. I am on a CERT team at work and I also volunteer my time teaching kids martial arts and self-defense. It's rewarding and provides a sense of purpose that few activities do.
I love it!!!
I will say my volunteer efforts don’t always meet total success. I used to be a regular blood donor. Then they added an obscure rule that has to do with people who lived in Europe at certain time periods in connection with the U.S. military and now I’m ineligible. 😞
I like to volunteer as an Election Day poll monitor. But then my hands and wrists got trashed and the last time I did it, I was in a lot of pain. Not sure I’ll be able to do it in the future.
So now I volunteer via photography. I did a project this past summer with the Potomac Riverkeepers where I took photos of their water quality monitoring process so they could use them for education purposes. I have written about Nature First, whom I work with now, elsewhere on these forums ad that too is a volunteer gig.
But the biggest thing to me is that volunteering makes me feel useful. And I think that’s a good thing for everybody. Especially if you’re having a hard time because COVID is messing with life again or because the holidays aren’t happy for everyone or because sometimes the holidays are just hard for people—no excuse necessary. Volunteering gives a way to do something meaningful, to add some good in the world, to take control and push back against the worlds darknesses, and to feel good about oneself. There’s always something a person can do. And it’s always the doer who benefits most.
Happy holidays, everybody!! Don’t forget to make a point of doing something kind for a stranger this season. ❤️