One way to inspire those around you is to become a rockstar volunteer in your community. It looks great on your resume, sure, but the spiritual benefits far outweigh everything else.
If you’ve ever been in a tough spot, you probably understand just how important a tiny gesture can be to someone else. I experienced this kind of volunteerism firsthand after Hurricane Katrina left me, my mother, and younger sister homeless. The outpouring of love and support by total strangers made a terrible situation much more bearable, and it restored my faith in the inherent goodness of humanity.
Later, I had the life changing experience of giving back to the Boulder flood victims in 2013 through donations and cleanup efforts. That was when I realized Life’s strange and unpredictable nature, as well as her surprising joys. There are zero negatives when it comes to volunteering, and there are plenty of reasons to get involved locally.
Not sure how? Here are a few ways to start:
1. See if your company offers volunteer opportunities.
Build a positive reputation for you and your organization by banning together. Large corporations almost always have programs at local soup kitchens, 5k runs, and more. If not, this might be the perfect opportunity to lead the charge!
How many cans and packages of food are sitting in your pantry right now? And how many of those do you actually intend to use before the expiration date? Same goes for the clothes you haven’t touched in years hanging in your closet right now. Books, furniture, tools, bedding, etc. Make room for the new while helping others – it’s a win-win!
3. Call your local animal shelter.
While animal rescues always need monetary/supply donations, they also need volunteers. Adoption events are great if you love interacting with animals, and you’ll get to witness the kindness of strangers. So what are you waiting for? Call your shelter and ask how you can help now.
4. Use your craftiness to help others.
Do you know how to knit or crochet? Homeless shelters accept clothing donations like hats, socks, and whatever you can create. Consider knitting hats for chemo patients and donating to your local hospital as well.
5. Hit up Habitat for Humanity.
Habitat for Humanity always has open projects. This an excellent change to meet new, like-minded people and learn a new skill.
6. Offer up your special skills.
Are you a writer? Designer? Engineer? Nurse? Whatever you are, you can help by donating your time and special skills. You can even get a tax deduction for it. Just make sure you keep track of your hours.
7. Pay attention.
There is always a way to help the people around you. Maybe you have a neighbor struggling to work to full time and afford childcare. Or maybe your local park is littered with trash. If someone seems troubled, ask them how you can help.
8. Small gestures.
If you’re limited on time, there are small things you can do everyday to make a better world. Simply smiling at people on the street can be uplifting. Happiness is contagious after all. When you see someone struggling to carry something in or outside, open the door for them. Someone recently paid for my coffee in the drive thru, and I did the same for the person behind me. This small gesture changed my entire mood for the rest of the day.
While there are a number of volunteer matching websites, I recommend getting in touch with local charities and organizations to find out how you can help. Do what you can when you can – you never know what a small gesture might mean to someone else.