By Michael T. Hughes, Chief Executive Officer
Volunteering can be a big task. Or small. It can be making root beer floats for your church potluck. Or teaching a youth group how to shoot hoops. It can be an apprenticeship for a large company. And it can even be leading an online campaign for your favorite charity.
There is no more meaningful activity than when a person gives up his or her own skills to someone else in time of need.
Volunteers continue to be the backbone of Arizona’s nonprofit organizations, providing more than $4 billion of contributed service from 1.2 million volunteers across the state, according to Volunteering in America. Twenty-three percent of Arizona residents volunteer.
Organizations like A New Leaf rely on volunteers to help improve the lives of homeless and domestic violence victims by preparing meals, reading to children, painting buildings and shelter facilities, hosting events, participating in Facebook campaigns and educating the public. Last year alone, A New Leaf’s volunteers spent more than 14,000 hours donating time to the organization’s programs.
Volunteers are motivated by a variety of things, and every person has a unique reason to give back. But there are five essential benefits that motivate most volunteers:
First, volunteering multiplies your networking opportunities. You will come in contact with people you have never met and yet you will have something immediately in common with them. They will share personal information with you, and you with them, and soon you each will be able to help each other in your jobs, in the industry, and in your personal lives.
Second, volunteering connects you with others and lessens isolation. Humans are social animals, and nothing is more challenging then times of your life when you are without work, suffer a loss in the family or move to a new city – times when you may lack social contact. Volunteering opens doors to new friendships and bolsters your sense of support and camaraderie from other people.
Third, volunteering provides opportunities to learn new skills. In a rapidly changing world, learning new skills is critical – and volunteering opens doors to opportunities where you can improve yourself and gain experience doing new things. You can turn weaknesses into strengths.
Fourth, volunteering helps you at work, at church, and in the community. Giving of your time, talent, gift or voice strengthens the entire community and its institutions. Service is a deeply held value at the pulpit and at the corner office both. Volunteering shows that you are invested in the common good.
Finally, volunteering changes lives. You can directly help those who may not be as fortunate. A small act of service can actually make a monumental difference in someone’s life.
“Find a need. Fill a need.” That mantra has served A New Leaf for 45 years, opening the door to a diverse cadre of volunteers who are dedicated to changing the world. Their compassion and inspiration have enriched the lives of both staff and clients in countless ways. If you are interested in volunteering at A New Leaf, we welcome your service.