Why do people volunteer? The answers are as varied as the opportunities. I recently searched a volunteer website to find ideas.
Childcare worker. No thanks. Dog walker. Uh, no. Tutoring? Nah. Helping the elderly. Not feeling it.
I started to wonder if I had any charitable cells in my body.
Five pages into the volunteer website, I finally found a link which suited my personality. Writer for the American Red Cross. I hadn’t considered the American Red Cross before. I’m certainly not a hurricane expert, blood specialist, or nurse. I expected all those positions as volunteer opportunities. But a writer? I clicked on the link the learn more.
I was floored to discover how much the American Red Cross offers beyond disaster relief and blood. You will be, too. The most fascinating part of the American Red Cross environment is the size of the volunteer pool. Over 90% of the humanitarian work is done by volunteers. What makes all those people tick?
I had the chance to talk with my friend’s father, who was a Transportation Specialist for the Red Cross approximately twice a week for five years. Here’s a snippet of my conversation with Mr. Bill Miller:
Me: Mr. Miller, how did you find out about volunteering with the American Red Cross?
Mr. Miller: I had been giving blood for several years, and after I retired, I was looking for something to do. I got into a conversation with the volunteers at the blood center, and found out about the transportation specialist role.
Me: Why did you decide to volunteer?
Mr. Miller: I felt it was a way for me to serve the community. Knowing blood is needed every day, I thought it could be a way to give back. It made me feel good, even though it was a small role.
As evidenced in Mr. Miller’s comments, volunteering provides personal rewards, both tangible and intangible. But that’s the thing. When I think about volunteering, I don’t consider personal rewards. It’s about helping others, right? It’s in helping others I can simply be… human.
Physically, volunteerism has been linked to a reduced level of stress. Sounds good to me. Emotionally, it can also reduce depression. Personally, it provides an outlet for purpose and meaning as well as a connection to others. It’s also a fun way to learn something new, and to meet others who are liked-minded.
The cost? A little bit of my time. But if my life is enhanced as a result, I think it’s worth it.
For more information on the American Red Cross volunteer opportunities in the Eastern Pennsylvania region, go to the website. We look forward to having you join us!
By: Lisa Tomarelli