The Importance of Volunteering: How to Give Back

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People choose to give back in different ways and for different reasons. Volunteering in the community often increases around the holiday season when people reflect and realize that there are others less fortunate. But many people often volunteer year-round for other reasons. For some, volunteering makes them feel good. Some people enjoy the social networking aspect. And some just like to know they're helping where they're needed. You may not know where to begin or how you can be of help but there are many ways you can give back in your community.

Offer your skills. Whether you work in health care, law, or as a writer, your expertise and time can be donated to those who need it. For example, Chiamaka Iheme, MD, a primary care physician at AdventHealth, volunteers one Saturday a month to a free clinic taking care of underserved residents in Flagler County.

Its the most rewarding experience ever to be able to give back to someone who wouldn't be able to afford, especially with something like health care, Dr. Iheme explains. You find patients are very appreciative and it makes you feel good that you're able to give back in that way. With the knowledge that I have, why not give it away if I can?

Participate in a community garden. Many communities have a need for fresh produce and little or no access to it. Gardening is great exercise and provides an opportunity to meet others in the community. You can donate what you've grown to a family in need or a homeless shelter.

Volunteer at an animal shelter. Shelters run on very little money so they rely heavily on volunteers. Though some of the work may not be glamorous, it will allow you to have some bonding time with animals looking for their forever home.

Bring pet therapy to a local senior center or hospital. Animals bring joy wherever they go. Research shows just 15 minutes with an animal can trigger the release of feel-good hormones, which can benefit seniors and patients who need cheering up. Just make sure your animal's demeanor is one that would do well in a hospital setting.

Organize a food or clothing drive. There are always shelters or programs that cater to families in need looking for food and clothing. Set up a drive at your workplace or your church.

Volunteering and giving back gives us a sense of purpose while making a difference. Committing just one hour a week can have huge benefits for you and the organization or group relying on your help. If there is an organization you support, contact them and ask how you can get involved. You'll get back more than you ever could imagine.

Click here to learn more about volunteer opportunities at AdventHealth.

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