According to the Corporation for National and Community Service (AmeriCorps & Senior Corp), The USA reached a 5-time high for volunteering in America in 2021. The report indicates 64 million Americans volunteered for a total of 8 billion hours to the value of $171 billion.

Volunteering can be emotionally rewarding, physically motivating, and FUN. However, people’s reasons for volunteering can be varied. Motivation for volunteering ranges from job evaluation requirements to practices taught in childhood.

Volunteering can come in a variety of forms. Formal volunteering is the most publicized. This may be with Organizations like Red Cross, 4H, or Save the Whales. Another avenue of engagement is joining service organizations like Elks, Lions Club, or American Legion.

However, there are other ways of giving your time. One example is helping extended family or friends. You can lend your time and expertise at church or your child’s schools. Participating in events that are good for the neighborhood, like community gardening or fundraising after weather disasters also count. Time is as valuable as dollars in many instances. Food pantries and drive-by food distribution centers have been lifesavers after storms or economic crises like the pandemic. These examples are often a result of local restaurants and churches working together.

“What’s in it for me?”

AmeriCorps reports that volunteering helps youth feel a part of their community and often do better in school and have a better chance of finding employment. Senior adults find volunteering keeps them healthy by being active both mentally and physically. It also allows for use of skills and expertise acquired over long careers and life experiences.

One local option to consider is joining a local coalition such as South County Bridges to a Drug-Free Community. And our mission to prevent youth substance misuse, increase awareness and educate the community, promote individual neighborhoods’ social, economic, spiritual, and emotional healing processes, and help fight the opioid epidemic. At Bridges, we focus on getting our youth well informed and armored with the tools to stay drug-free.

So, find a cause that touches your heart. Survey the opportunities in your community. Decide how much time you have and what you can contribute. Once you find the right balance the rewards will come to you.