I’ll be honest. I’ve never really volunteered a whole lot, except for that one summer when my mom paid me to volunteer as a Candy Striper at a local hospital. But since I was paid (under the table), I’m not sure if that experience counts. Anyhow, I do remember that experience, which is not such a bad memory, except for the hideous uniform! Oh! And that one time I volunteered at Loaves & Fishes. Wait. And that other time I volunteered as a non-official member of the Active 20-30 Club. And that other time I volunteered with BloodSource, even though I felt incredibly sick and probably should not have been in close proximity with blood donors. That wasn’t a bright idea. And a few weeks ago when I volunteered with the Rotary Club of Sacramento. And last weekend when I volunteered at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento for the PRSA California Chapter Influence Awards. Okay, so, I have volunteered slightly more than I initially thought, but still, my volunteerism puts me to shame when I think of the countless hours many others have dedicated to the local community.
Why does any of this matter? Do people volunteer because they think the experience will look good on a college application? Does the experience simply look great on a resume? Are these people bored? Do they absolutely have no social life?
Not too long ago, at a weekly PRSSA meeting, I was lucky enough to hear guest speaker, VP of Edelman, Christi Black Davis touch on the importance of volunteerism. And you know, it’s not the first time I’ve heard this. I hear this all the time. I’m sure you have too. I’ve heard this too many times to count. This must mean that volunteerism is really relevant, especially to the field of PR. So, perhaps it’s time to really start paying attention. This means: stop taking notes, stop researching and stop anticipating when you’re going to take action. Now is the time to take action.
I once knew someone who lived life and encouraged me to live life by three verbs: Be. Do. Have. I do my very best to live my life based on the same three verbs: Be. Do. Have. If there is nothing more you take away from this blog, other than, Be. Do. Have. Then I have done my job.
By being a volunteer and by doing good deeds for other people, you allow other people to have access to resources that they normally would not have.
People who volunteer are the people who know how to genuinely create real human connections. Yes, this means temporarily logging off of social media and actually interacting face to face with other people, but you can do it. You’ll survive. Trust me!
Volunteers are selfless, but it’s hard for one person to impact a community. Volunteerism isn’t a “me” action, it is a “we” action. It takes several people to work together, as a community, for the community. If and when members of the community rally together, they can and they do make magic happen. Volunteerism or community relations as it is known in the PR world (same thing), is a way to be involved in the community; build ties with people who hold important roles; it’s a way to get recognized; it shows that you care; it shows that you know how to think on a larger scale; and there is scientific evidence that shows volunteerism improves your health and longevity; volunteerism sets you apart from other people; it makes you feel good about who you are. According to the Wall Street Journal only about 20 percent of people are actually born with a feel-good gene, which means that for many people, volunteerism may be especially good for you. Furthermore, and according to Forbes, it influences other people to do good things!
When you do good things, other people view you differently because your aura begins to glow. People begin to study you because they want to know your secret. They want to know what makes you tick. You become an influencer, and businesses and organizations want to and like to hire influencers because they are the change agents. Influencers are the people who make things happen. Influencers are the movers and the shakers. So what are you waiting for? Are you waiting for someone to influence you? Or would you rather be the leader who influences other people to take action?
I work as a Social Media Intern for a local non-profit and I am receiving an obstacle crash course in various aspects of managing an organization with very limited resources– volunteerism in general, and especially for the upcoming holidays is in high demand (we need you). The Children’s Receiving Home of Sacramento has been in existence for more than 60 years. It works hard to positively impact the lives of many members of the community. I have a newfound respect for non-profits and the selflessness that goes with keeping its well-needed services available to children and families in crisis.
So, now that you’re more educated about the benefits of volunteerism, do you feel inspired to contribute to some feel-good holiday volunteerism in your local community? I hope so! Lucky for you, and for your convenience, I’ve included a link here: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/20f0f49aea823abfc1-angel2
Now go and make a difference. I know you have it in you. Now is the time!