A Case For Volunteering

aKEERA, cumac's Community enagement coordinator for volunteers 

aKEERA, cumac's Community enagement coordinator for volunteers 

I’ve been told that millennials are the most selfish, disconnected generation in history. While for some people this may be true, others do not fit the stereotype casted by ‘Generation X’ and ‘baby boomers’. According to a recent report, millennials are 65% more likely to give to charity and volunteer as a result of peer influence. In fact, a previous report showed, “70 percent of millennials spent at least an hour volunteering their time to a cause they cared about, with more than one-third volunteering 11 hours or more. Forty-five percent participated in a company-wide volunteer day. Thirty-two percent used paid time off to volunteer and 16 percent took unpaid time off to volunteer.”

Some of you may be asking yourself, “why does she care”, while others of you may have made the connection that I am a millennial. As someone with over four years of non-profit experience I can contest to the stereotype which previous generations have labeled us. I’ve always considered my peers the ‘generation of change’. We are likely to be the group to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty to be the change we would like to see in our communities.

Over the years, volunteerism has become one of my greatest joys. Oppose to what generations before me may think, my interest in volunteering was not motivated to make myself look good on college applications. I didn’t want to brag about my “good deeds” during job interviews, I genuinely wanted to make a difference. Through these experiences I’ve learned four key factors that I believe everyone should consider about volunteering.

1.      Learning Experience: At times we become so consumed with our reality that we ignore things going on around us. Volunteering allows you to step outside of your comfort zone and forces you to put yourself into the reality of others. While gaining new insight about surrounding communities and other issues, you also gain new insight about yourself. This could come in the form of learning a new skill that you did not know you possessed or encouraging an interest in a hobby or topic that you may have not considered before. If an experience or situation encourages you to ask further questions or influences you to become part of the solution then you have learned the importance of volunteering.

2.      Build new relationships: It does not matter if you are young or old, building relationships are vital. During your volunteer time you will come across people who may share your core values, your interest in hobbies or in most cases your reasoning for volunteering. A small conversation could lead to lifelong friendships or professional relationships. Just as volunteering, building new relationships is all about taking something small and manifesting it into something bigger.

3.      Feeling of accomplishment: Volunteering isn’t always easy. Some days are more strenuous than others, but once all is completed and you take a look at all you’ve done you begin to feel a sense of accomplishment. For many people, me included, no amount of money could compare to the joy gained from volunteering.

4.      You make a difference: Ancient Greek author, Aesop, once said, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” It doesn’t matter if you put in minimal hours of volunteering or maximum hours; the only thing that matters is you gave!

When volunteering your age does not matter, your heart does. I challenge every person who is reading this to find an organization that you connect with and answer their call to action. For anyone interested in alleviating hunger within the Paterson area, visit CUMAC’s website for various volunteer opportunities. Can't make it to CUMAC? Consider holding a collection or food drive. For all other interest please visit Volunteer Match.

Do you love volunteering? Share your thoughts with us below!