Connecting Through Volunteering by Cindy Stradling CSL, CPC

Looking back to your childhood, it is very likely that making friends, or at least having one good friend, was a relatively easy process. This friend or group of friends were likely kids in your neighborhood that went to the same school and may have been in your classes.

As adults, it is not as easy to find friends, and psychologists and sociologists have researched this phenomenon. The most challenging aspect adults report in making new friends is problems with trusting other people. Other factors include lack of time and commitment issues with work and family and simply not being in an environment with like-minded people.

While it is true that adults don’t gather on the playground like kids, there are ways to plan and structure interactions with people in your community that have similar interests. Volunteering with a charity, organization, or community help is a structured way to spend time with others doing positive, fun, and helpful things. In addition, you already have a sense of trust in the mission or the goals of the organization, and it is safe to assume that others that volunteer are also supporting those objectives.

The Benefits of Volunteering

In addition to making friends and connecting with others working for the organization, volunteering also helps to strengthen ties to the community as a whole. That community can be a local neighborhood, an online community, or as part of a national or international support network.

Giving back to others is a positive experience and one that is incredibly rewarding. Individuals that volunteer have the opportunity to be thanked and supported for what they do, which helps to create a sense of belonging, purpose, and contribution to things that are important to each individual.

An important factor to consider when choosing a volunteer opportunity is to consider how it aligns with your values, priorities, and passions. The more aligned the charity or organization is with your core beliefs and values, the more interesting and fun the volunteer experience.

Most volunteer groups are also socially active outside of the amazing work they do in their community. This provides opportunities to interact with others outside of the role you play in the organization. It is also a great way to expand your skills base, take on new responsibilities, or learn about processes, techniques, or methods that help you professionally.

Volunteers tend to report a higher level of personal satisfaction and happiness in their lives. Doing good things, meeting like-minded people, and helping others are great ways to boost your connections and your enjoyment of life.