The Many Benefits of Volunteering

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By Michael Lee Howard-Mayhew

Wanna volunteer at the Dave Matthew’s show?” Jocelin enthusiastically asked me.

One of the ways I know that summer is brewing is when Jocelin and I start planning for our yearly Reverb events. Reverb is a non-profit environmental organization geared toward “concert greening” that we volunteer with at specific live music concerts. We have volunteered with Reverb consistently for the past several years in which we have learned of the many benefits of volunteering and volunteerism.

It is such a great way to get out in the nice summer weather and see some good shows. We also get to catch up with each other and volunteer with a great organization whose vital purpose “creates and executes comprehensive, custom programs to green the tour itself while engaging concertgoers to take action for the environment.”

Benefits of Volunteering

Jocelin and I volunteering with Reverb at The Dave Matthews Band festival.

Why I Like to Volunteer and the Many Benefits of Volunteering

I get asked often why I like to volunteer and what the benefits of volunteering are, so I thought this would be a great chance to share the many reasons:

*Community – One of the advantages with volunteering is building and being part of a sense of community. I have volunteered for several events and causes over the years ranging from film festivals, to reaching out to at-risk youth, doing HIV testing, facilitating support groups, as well as fulfilling other critical needs. The one common factor with all the organizations that I have worked with is the sense of community where myself and all of the other volunteers are contributing to and creating avenues of inclusion. I really felt needed and a part of something greater. The stronger that we as active citizens are in coming together as one with the planet and each other, the stronger the world at large becomes filled with hope and positive changes.

*The Light Bulb Moments– I have found that in every group that I have worked with for any length of time, you will meet a spattering of people that you are deeply affected by when volunteering. Some may seem obvious. For example, when I was doing HIV testing it was easy to see the instant impact I had when giving a test result. Usually, a relief thankfully.

My Favorite Experiences While Volunteering

My favorite experiences are the ones that surprise me. The latest adventure I had was working with Reverb at the Dave Matthews Band Concert at the Gorge in Washington State. The obvious fandom of DMB fans was so electric and it was very exciting to be at an event that raised money for local Farm to Family programs. I got the incredible opportunity to speak with the actual farm owners who were chosen as the local charity from Wenatchee, Washington to benefit from Reverb’s fundraising. Being able you raise over $6,000 plus in this one night and then be able to hand to this local charity, was amazing. The festival went on for three nights, so each night a similar amount was raised. Getting to see the instant impact brought me a lot of joy. That is the moment you walk away and know that your time was well spent.

benefits of volunteering

Difference Made in Numbers

*The Impact– According to Volunteering in America’s website, In 2013, one in four adults volunteered through organizations nationwide. Volunteers also were twice as likely to donate financially. Sadly, the downside is that in 2013,  it was the lowest volunteer rate of the past decade. According to an article from US NEWS. Many organizations rely on volunteering more than ever. I can say from my many experiences as a volunteer that we have instances where not everyone shows up. So, you are greatly needed. Being a volunteer helps non-profits stay in business while keeping costs low. Do your research though to see the breakdown of donations, so you can feel good that the money raised is getting to those in need.

Benefits of Volunteering

Meeting Jack Johnson while volunteering with Reverb in 2010.

*The Perks– Okay, so I have now shared with you the serious side of volunteering, but did you know that a lot of the volunteering gigs do comes with perks? You learn various new skills from getting better at working with people to promoting a cause you believe in. If you are someone who wants to enjoy taking in a free concert, check out Reverb’s volunteer opportunities. Not only is it a good cause, but you get to go to the main musical acts for free, potentially meet them and you usually get cool free swag. What is this? You receive unique concert memorabilia, such as a free high quality t-shirt to take home with the band and specific concert info on it. We also got a limited edition, Dave Matthew’s Band reusable Nalgene water bottle and some yummy Cliff Bars bars to snack on. Each show has its goodies.

When I was a volunteer HIV tester, I was also given some great swag as well and met some amazing people that I have created long lasting friendships with. I was also able to get to know my community a lot better though the events that I have participated in.

Could Volunteering Be For You?

Thinking of volunteering? I suggest finding something that you really believe in. You can volunteer alone and meet new people or volunteer with a friend. Volunteering with someone not only helps you to be more motivated to get to the event but it’s also a great opportunity to spend time doing something you both really love. However, you can sill go on your own, because you will meet new friends who also love music and so, you are rarely alone.

There are just so many benefits of volunteering. It pays future dividends and gives you such a feeling of hope in humanity as well as shows you that caring communities are within reach. There are many others out there that want to make a difference in their communities, save the earth and do good.

Need somewhere to start? Network for Good  is an awesome place to begin! Another site, GiveWell.org is  a research tank that has found agencies that are truly improving people’s lives. A book written on altruism that is incredible is called, Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Make A Difference. Another highly recommended recent guidebook on volunteering to check out is Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World by Rosenthal and Baldwin. Are you a student? Amazon offers free shipping!

Remember, the key is that you walk into volunteering knowing that it is rewarding all the way and around and that there are so many benefits of volunteering!

Please let us know what you think of this post by leaving a comment below. Do you have any volunteer gigs to suggest or avoid? Let us know below. Thanks for reading Feel Better Wellness and here’s to feeling better through volunteering!

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