18 and Counting: The Perks of Being a Volunteer

July 22, 2012 § 1 Comment

Out with the YOLO and in with the NODA.

“No one dies alone” is the philosophy of the volunteer guild at the hospital I volunteer at. My friend was staring at the sign today and took a picture to show the other volunteers. “It’s so sick,” he said. “Instead of YOLO, it’s NODA now.” And we all laughed because it was oh so clever. 

During the drive home, however, I started thinking about why I decided to volunteer at a health centre in the first place, and that particular event was a good reminder about why I spend two hours of my free time each week doing water delivery and greeting patients with a smile. I would gladly continue to do this for the rest of my life (although I will be quitting in September because I will be a full-time student in university and I want to take it easy). Here are several reasons why:

Making People Smile:
You can make a huge difference in someone’s life, I think, even if the only thing you can offer someone is a simple smile. I’m not going to lie — hospitals can be depressing and sometimes even scary. Yet I have never left the hospital feeling like I did not do anything worthwhile. In fact, I have always come out feeling refreshed and good about myself. One of my supervisors, a friendly lady who is as cool as she is motherly, tells me that some patients may not have any family living in the city, and so a quick visit may brighten their day. Although I don’t get paid for my time, seeing a patient smile back or expressing their gratitude is enough for me.

I have volunteered at other places besides the hospital as well. I once volunteered at my old elementary school’s daycare every Friday for half a year, and playing with those kids and seeing them laugh always made my day.

Job Experience and References:
I’m going to talk about job experience because this was the reason why I started volunteering altogether. I was and still am an ambitious kid, and I listened to what my guidance counsellor told me: “Volunteering looks good on resumes and scholarship applications.” That is very, very true. You may also meet people, when you volunteer, who can reference you for future employment and/or scholarship applications. I know I’ve taken advantage of this opportunity.

Giving Back and Being a Good Role Model:
There is way too much violence in the world we live in, and it is a very material world. I feel like doing volunteer work really keeps me grounded and safe from going insane or from becoming someone other than who I am just to fit in, get rich and be famous (can I call the cast of Jersey Shore up to the podium, please? No? The Kardashians?). And get this — it feels so good to give back to the community and it feels so good to set a good example for the youth in the world. The way I see it, the world needs more love.

The People:
I can honestly say that one of the biggest reasons I’m still volunteering is because of the people I meet. I’ve met a lot of people who are good role models and who take initiative. Volunteering is, legitimately, the best way to find people who are like you or who have the same interests as you. Plus, giving up your free time with someone else who is also giving up their own free time is good bonding.

So there you go, here are a few reasons why I volunteer and will probably continue to participate in volunteering services for the rest of time. Now let’s talk about you — do you volunteer too? Comment below!

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