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The Importance of Volunteerism for Teens and Young Adults

Teenagers and young adults are key-holders in the success of our future as a civilization. They possess a unique perspective and energy that should be utilized and encouraged. Volunteerism is an essential way for younger generations to engage in the community and establish a foundation of crucial life skills. It allows them an opportunity to network with new people, enrich their passions and develop a sense of purpose.

There are many organizations all over the globe that welcome help from people of all ages. Motivating our youth to get involved will ensure college requirements are met and instill a feeling of enrichment and gratitude when helping others. Today, we’ll highlight the many benefits of volunteerism and the best ways for teens and young adults to get started.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Community Improvement

Young people are sometimes overlooked within our society, but allowing them to take the lead, share ideas and collaborate with their peers can be highly beneficial and rewarding for their communities. Creating more opportunities for youth volunteerism can help them to hone philanthropic skills and earn respect from others. In turn, this will create a ripple effect, influencing their peers to get involved in service projects. When more young people feel included, our communities will be safer and healthier. Not only does volunteerism positively affect the possibility of using alcohol or drugs, but it also dramatically reduces the rate of incarceration among young adults. This leads to a healthier, happier lifestyle while contributing towards a more secure community for everyone.

Mental Development

Even as an adult, finding your passions and productively using them can be challenging. When you are a teenager, this task can seem nearly impossible. Volunteering is a great way to gain experience in multiple fields, discovering untapped talents and skills that will prove helpful during adulthood. For instance, volunteering in an animal shelter may lead to a passion for pet care. Volunteering for an organization that builds homes can teach carpentry and safety skills; tutoring younger children may result in a passion for educating others; serving in a hospice environment will teach end-of-life perspective and crucial medical knowledge. There are infinite examples of volunteering in an array of fields. This provides key opportunities for our youth to gain real-world perspective. On a personal level, serving their community will also teach empathy and gratitude while building imagination, critical thinking, and decision-making skills.

Health Benefits

Volunteering helps combat stress, anxiety, and angry feelings and can also reduce the effects of depression. The social aspect of teamwork, combined with a sense of purpose when helping others, can have a profoundly positive impact on your well-being. Volunteering keeps you social, allowing you to create meaningful connections and a solid support system. It also makes you happier. Studies show that when we give of ourselves to others through service, we feel more optimistic and secure in our own lives. Volunteering is a great way to stay physically active. Teens and young adults use technology in many aspects of life; volunteering can offset being indoors and connected to devices by allowing opportunities to use the body and connect with outdoor surroundings.

College and Career Goals

Although volunteer work is unpaid, the number of skills that are gained will be invaluable. Ranging from basic skills to more advanced expertise training, a solid foundation will be crafted during your volunteerism journey. Volunteer work can also help build upon skills that may have already been learned on a fundamental level. Knowing your career path will be applicable when earning a degree and in real-world situations within your chosen field. If you are unsure of an exact route, it is also a way to try out many different career experiences to be confident when making such a long-term commitment. You can even volunteer directly for an organization that provides the services you are interested in pursuing in some fields. For example, if you’re interested in being a writer, you could volunteer at a local newspaper or even a library to gain insight and experience before going to college. Volunteering may even broaden your network of professionals, leading to involvement in an organization that offers internships for your career path.

Life Fulfillment and Purpose

Volunteering is an enjoyable way for teens and young adults to make a collective difference while exploring their unique passions and interests. Doing service work with peers can provide a much-needed escape from daily commitments, promoting a sense of independence and responsibility. Even while leading a busy lifestyle, you can choose the number of hours that will benefit your life and allow for free time without feeling overwhelmed. Making time to volunteer can advance creativity, drive, and motivation to continue forward confidently and successfully. This will lead to a more well-rounded, satisfied adult that possesses a variety of valuable skill sets.

How to Get Started

The first step to choosing the proper volunteer work is to search within your local community. Talk to a guidance counselor, community leader, or go directly to an organization to learn more and make sure you’re choosing the right fit for you. Animal shelters, food banks, senior centers, parks and recreation, wildlife, and conservation organizations are good starting places. If anything, the more people you reach out to, the better your chances of networking and finding your home in the volunteer world, and taking the time to sit down before your search and come up with the “why” can make all the difference. Are you passionate about conserving the environment, rescuing and caring for animals, or educating your community members? There are volunteer opportunities available within these fields and many more! If you are looking to branch out on a national or international scale, reaching out directly to an organization online or by phone will be your best bet. A few established organizations that will enrich the lives of teen and young adult volunteers are Habitat for Humanity; Meals on Wheels; DoSomething.Org; YMCA; Projects Abroad. It may seem overwhelming at first; start reaching out, and the right opportunity will find you!

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