We’ve all benefitted from somebody giving freely of their time to
us. When I was a young ball player, the coaches and umpires were all volunteers.
Now I try to give back through volunteering. I’d like to urge everyone
to do the same, and I can tell you from experience that it’s good
for you too. Here are six benefits of volunteering:
Volunteering makes you feel like you have more time. When I volunteer at local hospitals or little league clinics, I don’t
ever feel restricted by time. I am not there to accomplish a task in some
set amount of minutes or hours; I am on my own time. Simply “giving
back” to the community makes me feel like I’m not wasting
time, and when I donate time it feels like I am getting a windfall of
free time in return. When I volunteer, I’m not bound by the feeling
of work or the feeling of punching the clock, and it seems like time doesn’t
exist because I get caught up in the good feeling of helping others. The
saying “time flies when you’re having fun” is equally
true about volunteering.
Volunteering your skills helps you hone those skills. When I am working with kids in clinics and teaching them how to throw
and catch a baseball, I am really going back to the basics myself. By
going through these clinics I remind myself of the basics and fundamentals
of the game, which help me to perfect my own game. So not only am I training
kids, but I am practicing and retraining myself at the same time!
Volunteering helps you have a healthier body. Although volunteering is really about those you are helping, I get to
feel good about myself in the process. And studies have shown that volunteering
can in fact lead to better health. The Corporation for National &
Community Service has reported that “those who volunteer have lower
mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression
later in life than those who do not volunteer.” By volunteering,
I get to step away from my daily baseball activity and recharge my batteries.
The change rejuvenates me.
Volunteering your experience helps build your experience. Volunteering doesn’t just hone my existing skills, it allows me
to learn new skills as well. When I appear at a charity event or visit
a hospital, I get to work with other highly skilled professionals in their
world and get to learn what it’s like to be in their shoes for a
day. By stepping out of your own world you get to experience things you
wouldn’t normally get to do, and you can take what you’ve
learned with you into your own profession. This is a great way to develop
new skills, make new friends, and just shake up your daily routine.
Volunteering makes you feel the love. Volunteering can be fun, and it’s a great way to meet new people.
Maybe this benefit is a little self-centered, but volunteering makes me
feel good about myself. The London School of Economics has found that
the more people volunteer the happier they tend to be. Volunteering builds
empathy, strengthens social bonds, and simply makes me smile knowing I
am helping others. Sometimes it just feels good to be able to share my
success with others, and when people feel loved, they respond in kind.
Volunteering allows you to have an impact. Not everyone has the opportunity to hit a game winning grand-slam in the
bottom of the ninth. But volunteering can make you feel meaningful and
is one of the best ways to make a difference in your community. It doesn’t
matter what your passion is, or how you get involved, volunteering allows
you to have a real and lasting impact on the lives of others around you.
Be a volunteer and hit your own grand slam.
Hector Santiago is a pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Photos courtesy of Angels Baseball. Angels, Angels Marks, and Los Angeles
Angels of Anaheim are registered trademarks of Angels Baseball LP.