The act of selflessly giving one's time, valuable knowledge, or providing service to the country and the world has never been more important than it is today. As a global society, we are facing an economic downturn which has created unprecedented needs for charitable service providers, training and skill developers, and expert leadership in strategies necessary in developing and sustaining needy communities into self-sufficient and thriving entities. Volunteer work has never held so much value or provided so much reward as it does today.
The gift of people helping people learn to help themselves is volunteer work that provides ongoing value long after the volunteers have moved on. With increasing budget cuts and deficits, it is unrealistic, if not impossible, for the needy to rely on government agencies to solely provide assistance during long-term economic instability. When volunteers teach valuable skills to community leaders who then volunteer to teach what they learned to other members of the community, a better sense of security is achieved.
During the recent weather-related disasters, it is local organizations that provide food and shelter to victims before government agencies intervene. These local agencies are staffed by volunteers that have been trained in advance to respond to emergencies. Where would paid fire departments be without volunteer companies providing backup?
Volunteer work is becoming an integral part of school curricula and corporate policies as well. Schools systems are requiring students to complete a specified number of community service hours as a requirement for graduation in addition to classroom instruction. The lessons learned during formative years will hopefully translate into lifelong volunteerism. Students also learn skills needed later in life in terms of social skills, team building, and working with others to successfully complete college and employment team projects.
Corporations are also allowing a specific number of work hours to be dedicated to helping the community. Many companies make a quarterly project of dedicating a full work day, gathering the entire staff together, and completing a community project such as painting a recreation center or building a playground in a blighted area. A company with as little as 25 employees multiplied by 8 hours of work can easily complete a project in 200 man-hours. This is not only rewarding to employees in terms of generosity, but companies gaining experience in team building which makes the group more cohesive, and therefore, more productive and efficient.
With many citizens finding themselves unemployed and the prospects of finding work becoming more challenging, volunteer work is a good way to keep skills fresh and learn new duties and responsibilities that add value to one's resume. Although the work is donated time, the efforts will be well received by potential employers. Not only does one appear to be making excellent use of time outside of the job search, but it shows initiative and a take-charge attitude which are valuable assets to organizations. A potential benefit may be that the volunteer organization may have a paid opportunity opening up. Having a foot in the door. demonstrated dependability and hard work, one may be offered the job.
There are many opportunities for volunteer work within one's community. Schools, religious institutions, nursing homes, senior centers, and libraries can always use an extra hand. After-school programs held at local recreation and parks centers are always looking for volunteers. Parents who are not currently working would get the extra benefit of observing his or her child at work and play. This would also give structured bonding time away from the home where there may be more distractions keeping them apart.
There is no question that volunteer work is needed. Whether a formal government program like Serve.gov or the local Meals on Wheels route needs an extra driver, there is always someone needing help. In return, volunteers may be surprised by what great rewards are reaped for themselves as well.