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  • Writer's pictureKristen Herring-Asleson

Volunteering - It's Good for the Soul!

This week is the official week to recognize volunteers. The word itself can be defined in two ways, one as a noun meaning "a person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task," and as a verb meaning "freely offer to do something."

Remembering back to my waitressing job, there were always extra chores or tasks to complete when it was not busy. In those days, one of our tasks was wiping down the fans which required climbing on top of a stool, standing on tiptoes and quite often worrying if we would lose our balance as we reached up to clean. When someone else volunteered to take on that task, they were applauded. Yes, it meant we were off the hook that week.

As a busy adult, volunteering looks very different and requires much more time than wiping down fans. For instance, I volunteer as a classroom speaker for Bellis where I take time virtually or travel to high schools to share education on what the world of adoption looks like today versus decades ago. In addition to Bellis, my volunteering also includes Relay for Life Fillmore County and organizing the Buffalo Bill Days parade.

Coordinating schedules as a volunteer presents a challenge, but it has so many worthwhile benefits. In fact, the benefits are so great, that one should consider taking on a volunteer role to make an impact in an area that lights a fire within you, somewhere that awakens passion inside.

First, if you have children, remember they are watching you. Imagine the wheels turning in their little minds as they watch you give back to the community. They can see the difference you make in communities, for people and for animals. Volunteering connects you with others.

Based on emotions and feelings, volunteering is good for the mind, body and soul. For one, it can help increase your self-confidence, self-esteem, and overall satisfaction in life. On top of that, the feeling of accomplishment and pride simply swells with each volunteer gig you do.

How fantastic is it to make a difference for others yet feel the positivity surrounding yourself is that.

As we continue through the era of COVID, self-isolation continues to run rampant. When one volunteers, it becomes easier to branch out, making more friends and contacts within groups of people with common interests and likes. This combats the depression one can suffer while remaining in self-isolation.

If you consider yourself not physically active or healthy, volunteering can impact that as well. Studies have found those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate, less symptoms of chronic pain, and less heart disease.

Volunteering can also make a positive impact on your career. Volunteering can provide experience in a new field or improve your skills in something you already do for work. Even though volunteer positions are unpaid, the skills and experience you get from doing them can provide extensive training beyond what you have already received on the job.

If you aren’t looking to further your career and want something the exact opposite, consider volunteering with an organization that keeps you moving such as helping the elderly plant gardens, caring for animals at a shelter or rescue, or helping out with camps for children. The needs are there.

Volunteers come in all shapes, sizes and ages. No matter which category someone is in or where they volunteer, they all deserve a huge “thank you.” After my cancer diagnosis and recovery period, I saw first-hand the impact volunteers can have on the lives of individuals, families and animals.

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