By Stacey Buttel – Career Facilitator, Goodwill Columbus Workforce Development
As far back as I can remember, my mother had me signed up for anything and everything. Since the ripe age of 5 years old she signed me up for T-Ball, dance (I’m still scarred by my tap-dancing costume), and gymnastics. As years moved on this also included basketball (that lasted all of two seasons – I couldn’t find the net to save my life), cheerleading, and track. Throughout high school I stuck with cheerleading (I should have played volleyball instead), gymnastics, and track. However, my mom didn’t just sign me up and encouraged me to do all sports-like activities, she also included getting me involved in my community.
My mom was also a Campfire Girls leader. I can’t remember exactly when we started with that organization, but I was pretty young. I remained in that organization until I graduated high school. While being heavily involved in that organization (I really had no choice, remember my mom was a leader), we were also encouraged to be involved in community organizations. This led to volunteering at the food bank, community clean ups, etc. It also allowed me to become involved as a volunteer for the American Red Cross. I loved volunteering for the Red Cross. I would go downtown to their main building and help with blood drives and anything else they would throw at me. From there, I was recruited to be a student representative to their Board of Directors (talk about having no idea what I was doing, but I attended the meetings). Also through the Campfire Girls organization I was also involved in the Franklin County Junior Fair Board of which I was President (again, I had no idea what I was doing but showed up for the meetings and other various events). I even ran for the Ohio State Fair Queen, in which I was first runner up (sigh, I’m still a little burned by that one).
Why am I sharing this story with you? I am sharing this because I strongly believe that without my volunteering and community experience at a young age, I would not be who I am today. Volunteering and being involved in my community taught me leadership skills, social skills, problem solving skills, and time management. All these skills I still use today. It has taught me the value of others, and it is now inherent in me to help those in need without hesitation. It opened my eyes to other people’s experiences that were different from my own. It has taught me the value of service and serving others. I believe the act of volunteering and being involved in your community greatly impacts your life for years to come. Not only can it teach you the skills that I mentioned, but there are many other benefits as well.
- Social benefits – Helps you meet new friends, provides you with a sense of community, and improves self-esteem.
- Career benefits – Teaches you valuable skills and provides job prospects.
- Personal well-being benefits – Brings fun and fulfillment into your life, provides you with a sense of purpose, helps counteract the effects of stress, anger, and anxiety, allows you to overcome challenges, and helps you stay physically healthy.
So get out there! Find a cause you are passionate about and volunteer! Even helping organizations once a month makes a huge difference. Carve out some time into your busy schedule to get involved with your community. You won’t be disappointed.
And as always, thank you mom for teaching me the value and benefits of volunteering. However, I will never let you forget that horrific tap dance costume.