Volunteering has been something that has always been near and dear to my heart. I get great satisfaction out of benefiting the lives of those who are less fortunate than I am. It also helps me inspire young people throughout Chicago to chase their dreams and to understand that hard work and dedication are two important keys to success. Being able to help people is one of the most rewarding things I found I can do with my time, and there are a number of other benefits I have seen in my life from helping those around me.

Improved Mental and Physical Health

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) has been collecting research for over twenty years on the health benefits of volunteering. What they found is compelling evidence suggesting that the simple act of helping others is a great way to improve your health in a number of ways. People who volunteer have lower mortality rates, an increased ability to function mentally and physically, and lower rates of depression. The ability to better your mental and physical health through the act of giving back should be enough of a reason to get out there and support any of your local charities.

Learn Something New

No matter where you are volunteering or what you are doing, you are most likely going to learn a new skill. For instance, if you are building a home with Habitat for Humanity, you may have never hung drywall, installed windows, or installed tile flooring. By volunteering, you are not only giving back to those who are in need, but you are also creating new life skills for yourself that you can use for years to come.

Meet New People

One of my favorite aspects of volunteering is meeting new people. Every time I am blown away by the number of kind-hearted people I am surrounded with, and it truly creates a positive working environment. When you get a group of people together with a common goal of helping others, truly amazing things can be accomplished.

Improve Your Community

I am an advocate of volunteering locally, whether that is where you live now, where you once lived, or somewhere you traveled in the past that had a special place in your heart. There is no perfect community, but through volunteering we can all work towards bettering the communities where we volunteer. Your willingness to volunteer may also influence others who have been on the fence of volunteering. There is no better way to show people the benefits of volunteering than through first hand knowledge.

The term “volunteering” is very broad, and can be interpreted in many different ways. The best way to find out what you enjoy doing is simply by trying as many different ways to volunteer as possible. You’ll know when you find your niche, and you’ll be happy you did.