Volunteering is an extremely rewarding activity that benefits your own community. While many people think that helping others is a full-time commitment, it’s not. Even though it’s awesome that there are kids who volunteer constantly, for several hours at a time, for teenagers like me, it’s not doable. From my experience, it is usually best to take shorter shifts and volunteer at several events throughout the year.
Not only will this allow you to experience as many fun events as possible, but it’ll also expose you to different people and different ways you can help your community. Whether you realize it know or not, each event is like a mini job that you can learn from. The more diverse your job experience, the more you grow as an individual. Even when you aren’t learning how to set up booths or sell Christmas trees, you’re working with and talking with fellow Interactors and Rotarians. For introverts, this helps build interpersonal skills, encourages you to be more outgoing, and gives you the chance to make new friends. For independent workers, this teaches you how to cooperate, more effectively communicate ideas, and lead. Even if you already think you can do all these things, volunteering is a great opportunity to put those skills into practice, and by taking shorter shifts at a variety of events, you are exposed to more challenges that you can help solve. More shifts mean more chances to make connections too. Although you may think that you’ll never run into these volunteers again, you couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Volunteering has allowed me to meet several friends of mine and get to know students I don’t normally run into at school. Spending my sophomore year attending every volunteering opportunity possible, I was fortunate enough to meet a girl who currently helps me with calculus homework, a mother who advised me about which college I should attend, and the former Interact Club President, who inspired me to continue volunteering and eventually become a club officer.
I strongly encourage you to put yourself out there and meet as many people as possible. You never know who you’ll bump into and what it’ll lead to. Taking shorter shifts will also help you from wearing yourself out too quickly. Nothing is worse than being committed to volunteer for an entire day after being wiped out after thirty minutes. While you’ll never do anything too tiresome, a lot of events won’t give you the chance to sit for very long, if at all. Even something as simple as stacking chairs can especially wear down volunteers in the heat or rain. In addition, many students (especially juniors and seniors) lead very busy lives. Planning on taking a shorter shift will prevent a student from a crazy time crunch due to unanticipated homework and responsibilities, since most volunteers sign up over a week prior to the event. Taking morning shifts can also free up your afternoons for work and study, if you’re willing to wake up early for it. If you have the time, by all means, I encourage you to spend it helping others, but if you don’t, don’t worry. Make the most of your time with shorter shifts and put yourself out there by trying to attend as many events as you can, you won’t regret it.