While community service might not always be the most fun or exciting way to spend your time as a college student, it is an essential deed that not only benefits the community, but also yourself. Of course the most common intentions for participating in community service programs are to give back to the community while also fulfilling your civic duties as a community member, there might be something in it for you as well. Now while strengthening the community should be the primary reason for contributing your resources, community service also promotes personal growth and rises in self-esteem. There have been many experiments and reports that prove when focusing on someone or something other than yourself, stress levels can be reduced.
Whether you live in a large city like Chicago or a small college town like Bloomington IN, there plenty of programs in your community that offers fantastic ways to give back to the community. My main advice is to find a program that you can be passionate about. If you like animals, volunteer at an animal shelter; if you want to be a teacher, volunteer at a place with kids, and so on. Below are just a few common community service outreach programs that almost all communities offer and are in need of volunteers.
1) Animal Shelters – If you’re a dog or cat person, volunteering at a local animal shelter is a no brainer. Not only do you get to spend hours with cute furry animals, but you’re also contributing to a cause that is in desperate need of assistance. By volunteering at a shelter, you’re providing a valuable resource (a volunteer), so more money can be spent on medication and helping the animals find homes.
2) Nursing homes – Contact the recreational coordinator at a nursing home, and ask if they are accepting volunteers. Whether it’s raking the leaves, plowing the snow, or even just sitting with a senior citizen and talking, you can make a difference. The older people get, the wiser they become. Although you might think you already know everything there is to know about life, you might learn a thing or two after listening to someone who’s been alive four times as long as you. The elderly love sharing advice and stories to the younger generations.
3) Kids – This is a great opportunity for college students looking to get into teaching, social work, or any other profession dealing with children. Whether it’s reading to kids who are under-privileged, working with kids who have disabilities, or just being someone a kid can look up to, volunteering to work with children is a great way to help the community. These kids are the future of our community, and you never know how much of an impact you can make on their lives. One organization that I personally like and have participated in is Big Brothers Big Sisters. After spending a good amount of time with my “little”, I could truly say it was a mutually beneficial experience.
4) Environment – Whether you’re a tree hugger or just want to be able to be outside and breathe fresh air, there are many programs that can help you accomplish improving the earth. Some common services include, but are not limited to, starting/helping with community gardens, volunteering at parks, or organizing a community clean-up day.
These are just a few of the many ways you can contribute your time to make a difference. Don’t just do these for the community, or the kids, or whatever else benefits from your time; do it for yourself. Afterwards, you’ll be thankful for the experience each program offers you.
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