5 Reasons to Pay it Forward
Volunteering is one of those things that sounds good in theory.
We know volunteering is a “noble thing to do,” but when it comes to paying it forward, time, comfort and outside conflicts often get in the way.
Do you volunteer your time outside of work?
This world needs more of you—and your heart—for whatever you are passionate about.
And there are so many ways to pay it forward!
Do you find gratification from accomplishing tasks or creating things? Build a house with Habitat for Humanity, organize a trash collecting day at your local trail, or help a local organization get more organized themselves—in the office or warehouse.
Like being on the front lines with people? Serve a meal at a local homeless shelter, handout backpacks to kids from low income communities with food to eat for the weekend, take part in Project Prom to help girls without resources get a prom dress, heals and beauty supplies for the “big day.”
Natural born leader (or willing to become one?). Lead a small group biblestudy for highschool or college girls. Volunteer at a local foster shelter or nursing home as an activity leader. Start a movement.
Really good at something? Offer to tutor a teen in math or writing—for free. Host a group around a skill or talent you naturally have—and share it with others.
The world needs more of you…and the opportunities are limitless (both formal and informal).
I know for a fact the times I have felt most at peace, content and happy in my life have been those when I have shared some of my heart and love for other people…with others.
The facts confirm this.
Inc. Magazine highlighted a survey conducted this past year of the side effects of volunteering and found this:
- Volunteering widens your network. 57-percent of those who volunteer said they gained a wider network as one of the benefits they get from volunteering.
- Volunteering makes you healthier. 61-percent of those who volunteer said volunteering enhanced their wellness, making them more effective at work.
- Volunteering makes you feel better about yourself (boosts confidence)
- You learn new skills from volunteering.
- Volunteering allows you to “escape” work or other stressors in your life.
Volunteering may have been a “forced” activity for building my college resume in high-school, or a requirement as part of various student organizations I was involved in growing up…but over time, these activities instilled a love for paying it forward—with no expectations in return.
One of my faves?
Visiting my homies at the nursing home!
Now I know you may not be an “old people person,” but if you’d just give ‘em a chance…they are people too (and perhaps, if anything, good karma will come back to you to age well).
During my high-school and college years, no matter where I was living, I always found a nursing home or assisted living nearby where I’d pretend to have a grandparent in the facility, and I would just drop in to make the rounds to the residents’ rooms and just…visit.
Everyone has a story to tell—especially older people—and I would pop into Helen, and Charlene, and Barb’s rooms to simply visit and hear their stories. Sometimes I’d play Bingo. Other times, I’d chaperone an assisted living dance, or instigate a game of balloon volleyball.
Many times, I’d meet folks who’s families had seemingly forgotten them…and others who no longer had any family around at all.
And I’d just listen (and share a homemade cookie I made them).
I guarantee you, I walked away from my meetings and rendeveous each time 10 times more invigorated than the residents themselves.
“Pay it forward” is your #thrivelife project today—or at least book a time in your busy schedule to volunteer—this week, next week, this month. Sometime soon.
And it doesn’t have to be anything formal or extravagant.
It could simply mean making some PB&J’s to take to the homeless on the street corners you know about…treating a 7-year-old, or 12-year-old, to an ice cream date or mall excursion (those pre-teens love the mall)…or volunteering your time to help someone write their resume and practice job interview skills.
You can also look for an organization or opportunity in your hometown that speaks to you.
Austin is crawling with opportunities—and I am certain your hometown is too…if you just look around.
Here are some on my radar:
- Dress for Success
- Girls on the Run
- Empowering a Billion Women by 2020
- Girl Scouts
- Boys and Girls Clubs
- Big Brother, Big Sister
- An organization dedicated to a cause you are passionate about (for example, I’ve been a spokesperson for National Eating Disorder Association and several body image movements, like EMBRACE and Miss Representation
- Local Children’s Hospitals, homeless shelters, foster homes and after school progams
Check out the Volunteer Match site for more opportunities in your area.