Volunteering can (continued):

  • Help you learn new languages or improve your current language skills.
  • Help you use and improve your current skills and learn new ones.
  • Help you to network and establish new business and personal relationships.
  • Enhance your team building, leadership and management abilities.
  • Help improve both your physical and mental health. By staying connected with others you can reduce stress. Some studies have shown that volunteering can reduce chronic pain and heart disease.
  • Help you build self-esteem and provide a sense of worth not often found in the work environment.

There are many opportunities to volunteer both locally and overseas. There also also different types of volunteering situations available depending on your skills.

Volunteering opportunities include:

  • Disaster Recovery – Unfortunately there are always opportunities to provide services when disasters (hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc.) strike. In many of these situations both skilled and unskilled volunteers are required including those with medical backgrounds, engineering and construction skills and others willing to help clear, clean and rebuild affected areas.
  • International – Many of the international volunteering situations are in developing countries that require services in education, medicine, support with environmental, conservation and construction issues.
  • Community – Almost every community both in the US and abroad uses volunteer services to fight fires, educate local children and adults, provide support services in schools, help the underprivileged, repair, rebuild/build required structures, clean neighborhoods and many other tasks.
  • Work Camps – International work camps bring together a group of people to work on a project together with local residents of an area. The groups typically work on projects involving human rights, the environment, community development, etc.
  • Online work – Virtual or online volunteer services are typically offered using a computer and an internet connection to provide translations, remote tutoring, project plan development, monitoring of projects, project reporting, etc.

The time devoted to volunteering can vary from a few hours a week to several years. Many corporations encourage employees to volunteer in their local communities. Some companies allow for volunteering during work hours. Religious and non-denominational organizations search for volunteers to provide services to their members as well as the community-at-large. Major government as well as NGOs recruit volunteers to provide services overseas typically to poor communities/villages.

There are endless opportunities to volunteer from working in a soup kitchen to educating children in villages in various parts of the world. One thing I heard from several people I spoke with was that the impact of even the shortest volunteering assignment should never be underestimated.

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