Community service plays a part in many things in your town or city. Many schools encourage or require you to participate in community service to graduate, for example. However, community service isn’t just something to get done with and never think about again. Without our volunteer service members, communities across the country wouldn’t be able to function as they do.
There are many different types of community service, too. While there are a few typical categories, anything that involves volunteering your time to help your community can be considered community service. We’ll teach you all about the different kinds of community service and how important they are in this article.
Types of Community Service
When we think of community service, our thoughts often go to convicts cleaning up trash, spending time in soup kitchens, and other such jobs. However, while these are the community service jobs that end up popularized by television and media, community service really has no borders or constraints. As long as you’re volunteering your time or resources to the community, you already have the right idea.
However, this makes the community service category pretty broad, too, and this can be intimidating, What, exactly, qualifies for community service? You really can’t go wrong by helping those in need, for one, as this is where many community service resources go.
Donating food or supplies to a homeless shelter or soup kitchen is always a reliable option. Food banks and similar facilities always need spare non-perishables. Homeless shelters and other personal care centers always need supplies, too, such as:
- Feminine products
You don’t have to work through an organization to do community service, though. You can create your own organization if you’re feeling ambitious, or you can go directly to the people who need it. One option is donating textbooks, glasses, or school supplies to low-income schools and students in need.
While you might not get official credit for school or work while doing so, something as simple as providing a homeless individual with food, supplies, or shelter is another excellent choice.
Importance of Community Service
Community service isn’t just vital to the less fortunate in communities across the world; community service has benefits for us, too. While it might not seem like the greatest way to spend your free time, doing a bit of community service can make you a happier, more satisfied individual in the long run.
Make New Connections
While this might not be the primary benefit you think about while performing community service, it can be a great way to meet new people and create fun new connections. Moreover, when you’re doing community service, you’re more likely to connect to people who enjoy serving their community in the same way you do. This way, you know you’ll already have something in common when you meet someone new!
Volunteering is what brings a community together. Often, people who enjoy one aspect of community service will continue performing that service for years. As such, you’ll continue to see these people year after year after year. Even if you don’t make friends at your first opportunity, the chances are that if you stick with it, you will in time.
As you might expect, meeting and interacting with the same people year after year is a great way to increase your social skills. Many types of community service require you to interact with people significantly, and this will improve your social skills, whether you like it or not!
While it does depend on which kind of community service you decide to do, some jobs require you to talk or otherwise interact with others, too. By taking on these types of community service jobs, not only do you speak to and meet new people that you like, but you’ll meet all sorts of new and exciting strangers, too.
Of course, never forget that you’re building a “network” as you do community service, too. If you’re careful to make good, lasting friendships during your community service, your association may extend to the outside of the service, also. This network can come in handy in all sorts of unexpected ways.
If you’re not good at making friends or connections, consider trying community service instead of the usual club setting. While new people are rotating in and out of community service all the time, it’s likely that you’ll mostly be exposed to the same group of people much of the time. In this way, the social aspect is very similar to being in a club, but you’ll be helping your community at the same time!
If you’re a part of a family (or if you have children especially), it can be particularly valuable to take part in community service. Not only will you be expanding your family’s friend and work network, but you’ll be showing your children and other family members an incredible example of what they can do. If your children grow up serving their community, it will make sense that they would learn all sorts of essential values and lessons from this.
Showing children how good it feels to make a difference is best taught early on. By doing this, children will grow up with the expectation that giving back is, in many ways, its own reward. However, this isn’t the only benefit for families, either.
Family-related community service is a great way to scope out potential resources for your children, too. For example, let’s imagine that you have a child with special needs. By volunteering at special needs child care facilities, you can scope out things like hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, and daycares before committing to them.
First and foremost, though, never forget that volunteering is a great way to do things as a family. While older teens and children might think it’s a drag, a time slot designated explicitly for community service during the week is a great way to bring your family together for some together time.
As anyone in the service industry will tell you, talking with people is a great way to increase your confidence and social skills. There’s no better way to learn how to interact correctly with people than to work directly with them. It’s like a crash course in socialization.
Of course, as your social skills develop, your confidence in those skills will continue to grow, too. Such community service is a great way to prepare for jobs in the service industry, especially for older children and teens who may be looking for their first paying jobs soon.
Keep in mind that community service generally makes you feel satisfied, too. This will increase your self-confidence just by association, but it’ll make you feel happier overall, also.
Moreover, working in the community will help to define your identity, too. With every person you work with and meet, you’ll learn new things and grow a little as a person. By the end of it, you’ll be an entirely different person from the one you started as.
It’s no mystery that working with your community can give you a healthy sense of pride, too. When we know that something we did improved and helped our community as a while, this can be a considerable mood-booster! Not only does that become a part of yourself that you wouldn’t mind sharing with others, but it’s one that you yourself can be proud of, regardless of what other choices you may have made over time.
Like the above paragraph suggested, working at community service can improve your overall happiness, too. Not only does it make you take pride in more of the things you do, but it can directly counteract depression, also.
Predictably, volunteering can also increase your general satisfaction. There’s not much better you can do than serving your community to inspire a sense of pride and confidence in yourself. Like we stated above, this confidence will help you immensely in social situations, but it will impact your happiness and your overall life, as well.
One of the most significant benefits of community work, though, is that it puts you in constant contact with others. Because community service, by nature, involves working with people in your community, you’re never at a loss for social interaction. While community service might not fulfill all of your social needs, you’ll never feel socially isolated if you do it consistently.
Not only will you be interacting with other people all the time, but you’ll be building a system of friendship and support around yourself at the same time, too. No matter how socially inexperienced or anxious you are, the nature of working with others will expose you to new connections and friendships. This is a great way to combat isolation when you feel it.
Not only does working with others keep you from feeling isolated, but it just generally improves your mood, too. For example, you might have heard before that working with animals is shown to improve your mood and melt away stress. If you do community service with animals, then, such as working at an animal shelter or rescue, you will see that same benefit.
It depends on the community service you do, of course, but some community service jobs can provide other benefits not listed so far. A common one that you might see is physical health. We mentioned cleaning up roadside trash earlier in this article, for example. If you were on trash clean-up all day, you would be sore and worn-out by the end of the day, would you not?
As such, picking up trash and otherwise working your body, day after day, is a great way to improve your physical fitness. While it won’t get you fit the same way visiting the gym will, it will work muscles that you wouldn’t otherwise be using at home or on a desk job. All this physical activity is excellent for your body, of course, but it also makes you feel better (and happier), too.
Evidently, studies show that people who volunteer tend to live longer than people who don’t, and this physical exercise could have something to do with that. Of course, the other mental, emotional, and physical benefits of volunteering are nothing to scoff at, either.
Another great benefit of volunteering is keeping busy. When we’re home on the weekend or after a day of work, we can often find ourselves with idle hands. Idle hands can lead to bad things for some people. Volunteering, however, will keep you from being bored or inactive, while at the same time helping your community and offering all the other benefits in this guide.
Not only does keeping busy help keep you out of trouble, but it can have some other surprising benefits, too. For example, if you’re someone who deals with chronic pain, the most effective method to deal with it is to keep your mind off of it. Volunteering is a method of keeping busy, and as such, it’s a great way to keep your mind on helping others and away from thinking about your pain.
Volunteering From Home
Even if you don’t want to get out and work physically in your community (or if you physically cannot, for example), there are still many ways to make your mark on it. This is the age of the internet, and there are a plethora of jobs to do online or even over the telephone that can benefit the people in your community who might not otherwise have access.
If you don’t understand what we mean by this, consider the following jobs. All of them are essential to the function of any organization or business, and it’s easy enough for someone to volunteer to do them from home. Some examples of these include:
- Graphic design
- Email correspondence
- Fielding phone calls
- Website maintenance and generation
Do keep in mind, though, that while volunteering from home can be just as rewarding and far more convenient, that you might find yourself in a more socially isolated situation. While volunteering on-site, you’ll meet various other people who are volunteering along with you. However, you won’t meet these same people (at the very least in person) if you volunteer from home, and it’ll be harder to build those all-important connections.
If you find an excellent organization to work for, they may check up on you from time to time, too, or offer to involve you in meetings, training, or other on-site work in addition to your home volunteering. If you desire that extra bit of social contact, you may want to find an organization that can provide this sort of flexibility for you.
While not all of us have a strong internal desire to help others, helping someone else who’s in need tends to have the same effect on all of us, regardless of our background. While the amount of our time that we can give to help others varies, even a little bit can help more than you might ever think. It’s a proven fact that people who volunteer to help others tend to be happier on average than those who don’t.
Why does helping others make us feel happy? Well, part of it is that we can spread our livelihood and our time to others and make them feel satisfied in the process. While it might seem inevitable that seeing people who are worse off than us might make us feel sad, helping to make those same people feel a bit of joy and improving their lives just a little bit evidently leaves a lasting mark on us.
If your chosen career has community service attached to it as a requirement, then yes, you can count community service as a career-advancing opportunity. However, for those who are not required to volunteer, it works a bit differently. While you might not see direct, measurable benefits from community service right away, rest assured that they’ll be there.
First and foremost, volunteering creates a strong interpersonal network, and you might never know when this network could come in handy. If you end up looking for a career change in the future, for example, someone whom you met through volunteer work might be connected to your next source of employment.
Meeting someone connected to your current source of work while volunteering shines a beneficial light on you, too. Imagine, for example, that you ran into your boss’s boss while volunteering for a particular organization. The next time a promotion is in the company is coming, the fact that you gave back to your community will surely shine a bright light on you.
Of course, doing community service just so that you look good in the process isn’t a good reason to be doing it at all. However, the side benefit is definitely there if you run into the right people in the process. Just remember to always treat it as a nice bonus instead of the main advantage of volunteer work.
Volunteering can show you all sorts of other career-related benefits, too, even besides advancement and networking. Some examples of this might be:
- Better communication
- Task efficiency
Think about how a volunteer organization works. More so than any profit-based organization, time for a volunteer group truly is money. As such, the goal is always to be as efficient as humanly possible. You might be asked to work much harder, faster, and more efficiently than you ever have before. You might also have to solve problems on the fly, plan projects efficiently in advance, and manage others’ duties and tasks. It’s a surprisingly good way to develop all-important long-term life skills that will help you in careers across the board.
Of course, not only does volunteering build your career-related skills and even advance your career, but it can also provide you with career-based experience. For example, depending on what sorts of work you’re doing for your chosen organization, you might find that you end up doing some of the same work between both companies.
Let’s assume that you work as a dishwasher in a restaurant, for example. This is an entry-level job with much room for improvement, but for many people, this is the starting point for a culinary career. Now, let’s assume that this same person also volunteers in a food kitchen, making food for the homeless every day.
Not only is this person giving back to the community, but they’re improving their own culinary skills at the same time. While they might not be making the dishes they’re used to or even wanting to make; they’re still hard at work building their cooking skills!
Don’t forget that the line between community service and internship work can sometimes be blurry, too. You can sometimes take an unpaid (i.e., volunteer) internship at a community center or organization. Not only will this look good for you on paper, but it’ll benefit both you and the organization, too.
Just because you’re not getting paid doesn’t mean you’re not advancing your future career, after all. Some internships for large, for-profit companies are unpaid! If you’re donating your time anyway, why not put it toward an organization that gives back to others instead of themselves?
Of course, working for such a volunteer organization is a great way to increase your own satisfaction, too. Not only are you building up in-demand skills for an industry job later on, but you’re giving back to your community at the same. This is a favorable match-up, is it not?
While this might be a slightly unconventional way to develop career skills, it’s an excellent option. Volunteering for your internship can help to build all sorts of skills that you might need down the road, such as:
- Marketing skills
- Communication skills
- Speaking and advocation skills
- A strong moral compass
- Time management and delegation skills
Unfortunately, there is one apparent downside when volunteering for your internship. Because you’ll be working for a volunteer-based company instead of one who’s actively hiring for paid work, your opportunities for advancement are fewer. This isn’t to say that working as a volunteer won’t get you anywhere, though, because this is absolutely not true; however, unless you want to keep volunteering long-term, your opportunities for paid work with that company might be less or even nonexistent.
However, that’s not to say that working for a volunteer organization is a dead end, either. While your long-term, paid work might not be with them, that’s not to say that you won’t run into your dream job in the process. As we’ve ascertained so far, working as a volunteer is a great way to create peer networks, and someone in this network might see you at work and invite you to apply to a job somewhere else.
Another unexpected benefit of searching for your career through volunteer work is the types of businesses you encounter. While you’re working with a community that functions primarily off of donations, you’ll learn quickly which companies give back to the community and which ones do not. If you have aspirations to work for such a company, the volunteer community is a great place to start your search!
Fun, Passion, and Positivity
Those of us who volunteer in something usually continue doing so (even if we didn’t start that way) because we have a passion for it. Maybe in the course of your volunteer work, you met people who became incredibly important to you. You might care about the plight of these less-fortunate individuals more than you ever did before after volunteering to work with them.
Take a food kitchen, for example. The purpose of a food kitchen is to provide meals to those who might not be able to afford or prepare them themselves. Not just homeless people take advantage of soup kitchens; technically, there are no restrictions on the people who visit here, so even those with homes who have trouble making ends meet might visit the soup kitchen.
Your passion for volunteering somewhere might be further ignited if you can relate to it somehow. A surprising amount of children (not to mention adults) go hungry or go without meals every day. If you were one of these children when you were young, or you’re one of these adults now, the plight of the hungry at a soup kitchen might light a fire in you, so to speak.
Of course, volunteering to help the less fortunate does wonders for your own positivity, too. While seeing people worse off than us can inevitably make us sad, it tends to make us happy and positive, also. This is because we end up feeling thankful that we’re not in the same situation as the less-fortunate individuals we serve and assist.
Even if you use food stamps a few times a month to make ends meet, at least you’re not going hungry, for example. Even if you don’t have much money to put in a savings account at the end of the month, at least you have enough to pay your bills. While you might not be able to afford a house just yet, at least you can afford a place to live. Thoughts like these are where this unexpected positivity comes from.