young woman suffering from self critisism

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What do you do for the community? The meaning of volunteering

Recently, a friend received a request to volunteer to help elementary school children read. Her children’s teacher had approached her about it. In principle, my friend is interested in getting involved. She just doesn’t know if and how she can handle this additional task. Therefore, we first discussed why others volunteer for the community.

Why do volunteering?

Here are some possible reasons or opportunities that lie in volunteering:

Social responsibility

Many people feel an obligation to do something good for their community and make a positive contribution. These volunteer responsibilities can vary greatly depending on the type of activity and the organization in which one is involved. This can be support for the needy (homeless assistance, hospice support) or disadvantaged people (with a migration background). It is also possible to work in sports or cultural clubs, in environmental protection, in animal welfare work or in political organizations or parties.

Personal growth

Volunteering can be an opportunity to gain exciting, new skills and experiences and to develop personally. It can also provide a sense of purpose and self-efficacy, as well as boost resilience, self-esteem and social networking.

Community bonding

Volunteering allows people to make new contacts and network with others in their community. This leads to an expanded social network, greater cohesion and solidarity.

Finding meaning

Many people are looking for opportunities to make a meaningful contribution and make a positive difference in the world. Volunteering can help meet this need for meaningfulness and find one’s „what for.“

Common Good

Volunteering can help improve living conditions in the community and positively impact society as a whole. It is about engaging in unpaid, voluntary work to improve the lives of others and their surroundings. Volunteering can therefore play an important role in civil society and help bring about social, cultural and political change.

However, these reasons are not exhaustive and there are many more motives to engage in volunteering. Each person has their own reasons and motivations for why they engage in community service.

Risks of volunteering

Like any activity, volunteering can present risks and challenges. These can include, for example, physical, psychological or time-related stresses resulting from the work. But there are also legal or financial risks to consider.

In some cases there may also be conflicts within the organization or with other groups or individuals. Professional leadership based on participation and co-creation within the team can do good in these cases of conflict.

Another aspect is self-protection or „learning to set boundaries“ in volunteer work. Commitment to the point of self-sacrifice or the tireless plugging of gaps in the structural care of vulnerable groups must not be the goal of volunteering.

My friend is still unsure. She needs time to think about it, to weigh up the opportunities and risks. Perhaps she still lacks the necessary impetus to get involved in the new challenge.

Volunteering makes sense

Overall, volunteering can be seen as a valuable complement to professional work. It then helps to strengthen society and improve people’s quality of life.

If you would like to learn more about this, please feel free to contact me. Additions and helpful comments – written below – are also welcome.

Cheers,

Stefanie

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