“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands — one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” — Audrey Hepburn
This quote really encapsulates the value of volunteering. And if you’re in recovery or recently graduated from a program, there can be so much to gain from the experience. Let’s dive into a few of the reasons to consider giving back. For one, the ability to give your time and energy to others can be a boon to your recovery, not to mention your emotional, mental and physical health. That’s because volunteering takes you outside of your head. You may encounter people less fortunate or even those in similar situations but who have not made it as far as you have. In other words, in assisting others who are in the recovery process, you can show that it’s possible to get to the other side.
Another way that volunteering can serve you post-recovery is by providing you with an outlet to use your time productively. For instance, if you’re trying to get back into the workforce after a hiatus, the process of job hunting and interviewing can feel discouraging. And for some, this period of transition emotional distress and societal pressures can propel some into a dark place and spur a relapse and/or cause job seekers to give up on their search. That’s why filling your time with something productive and positive can be a helpful distraction during times when you feel less grounded.
Last, volunteering can help you during the job application process because you can hone skills worthy of a resume, plus fodder for interviews. There’s also the fact it can help you get your foot in the door of a potential organization and help you acquire beneficial skills that might not have been taught in the classroom, skills such as time management, communication and empathy.
So how can you volunteer? Luckily, many websites can instantly connect you with volunteer organizations or opportunities that are entirely tailored to you. You might start with volunteer.gov to connect with causes that speak to you. When in doubt, your local United Way, soup kitchen, after-school program, homeless shelter, humane society or even church might be good points of contact to help you find the right opportunity.
In short, volunteering can help you just as much as it helps the people on the receiving end. You might be surprised by how rewarding you find the experience to be.