The benefits of volunteer work -- for anyone, of any age -- are virtually endless. Volunteer work expands your understanding of other people's lives. It gives you a new view of the world and the problems within it; it also shows you how hard people will work to solve those problems. There's no better cure for the blues than helping someone who's worse off than you are. It seems paradoxical, but volunteer work amid the most severe social problems can often be an abiding source of personal hope.
For teenagers, volunteering has additional bonuses. It looks fantastic on college applications, and sometimes it even makes you eligible for certain scholarship assistance or financial aid. Repeated or dedicated volunteer work demonstrates that you're not simply participating in the activity for the sake of strengthening your application -- you actually care about changing the world. That's a testament to your character that no standardized test score can duplicate.
Volunteering also strengthens your résumé. It often teaches you new skills. You might learn a new language or a new computer program. You'll almost certainly learn some interpersonal skills, and you may get some on-the-ground training in how an office functions day to day. After volunteering, you can apply for jobs with some demonstrable hands-on experience.
Volunteering also gives you an opportunity to meet people you might not encounter otherwise, and to expand your social group beyond the walls of your school. Volunteering tends to bring like-minded people together, and many people forge lifelong friendships in volunteer organizations.
Of course, the best benefit of volunteering is the knowledge that you've made a difference in your community. Is there ever a better feeling than knowing you've changed the world for the better?
To learn more, visit the links below.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- ABC News. "Teen Volunteer Is a Community Leader." ABC. January 19, 2007. (Accessed 5/11/09) http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/abc7_salutes&id=4952990
- Do Something. "What's Your Thing?" Do Something. (Accessed 5/11/09) http://www.dosomething.org/whatsyourthing
- Fife, Jim. "Volunteering: Change Your World." Volunteer Center of Rhode Island/United Way of York County. 2003. (Accessed 5/11/09) http://www.vcri.org/matriarch/documents/Youthinvolvementbookletview%281%29.pdf
- Friedman, Susan. "10 Great Volunteer Ideas for Teens." Family Education. (Accessed 5/11/09) http://life.familyeducation.com/slideshow/volunteer-work/29594.html
- Idealist. Teen Volunteer Programs. Idealist.org. (Accessed 5/11/09) http://www.idealist.org/if/idealist/en/SiteIndex/Search/search?assetTags=NON_PROFIT_TYPE&assetTypes=Org&keywords=teen%20volunteer&keywordsAsString=teen%20volunteer&languageDesignation=en
- Lo, Justin. "On Being a Teen Volunteer." Journal of Palliative Medicine. March 2001. (Accessed 5/11/09) http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/abs/10.1089/109662101300052202
- Strouth, Gene. "Two volunteers will be missed at Teen Court." Wichita Falls Times Record News. July 5, 2008. (Accessed 5/11/09) http://www.timesrecordnews.com/news/2008/jul/05/two-volunteers-will-be-missed-teen-court/
- Transitions Abroad. "High School Volunteer Opportunities." 2009. (Accessed 5/11/09) http://www.transitionsabroad.com/listings/study/teen/teen_volunteer_organizations.shtml
- United Way. Teen Volunteer Opportunities. (Accessed 5/11/09) www.unitedway.org