Pioneer Press

Posted Thursday October 23, 2003


Volunteering your time can be life-changing experience

By Hap Lecrone

Giving blood, reading to a child, raking leaves, delivering meals, mentoring teens, feeding the homeless, serving others. Volunteering takes many forms and allows people the opportunity to find something fulfilling to do, share their good fortune or simply reach out to others in need.

The beauty of volunteering is that anyone can be a volunteer in almost any area of service that he or she finds interesting. The reasons for volunteering are as varied as the people who volunteer, but whatever the motive behind the service, volunteering can be rewarding for those serving and those being served.

Volunteering is an enriching experience in which you have the opportunity to improve your community, work for social change, help others and give new meaning to your life. The following are some of the benefits of volunteering:

Helping others: Volunteering is a way to share your personal gifts and lifetime experiences with others. Many people forget their own worries when they help others and are reminded of the blessings in their lives when they reach out to those in need.

Build skills: Volunteering provides the chance for individuals to try something new and challenges them to work outside their comfort zone. Many volunteers find a new talent when they begin helping others and continue to fine tune already existing talents.

Self-expression: Volunteering can allow people to fulfill lifelong dreams and ambitions. Many volunteers choose to serve in an area that fulfills their innermost desires that have all too often have taken a back seat to school, career and family.

Meet new people: Volunteering opens doors to new communities, friends and professional contacts.

Build self-esteem: Many volunteers find that their volunteer service builds confidence and healthy attitudes because as they help others, they are helping themselves. Finding new skills and talents, meeting new people and serving others can truly help you feel good about yourself.

Develop creativity: Volunteering allows you to explore new ways of looking at the world, and you are able to use your special talents and skills to help work through problems.

Explore new careers: Volunteering is a great way to explore possible career options and it allows you to discover whether you like certain kinds of work without making drastic career changes.

Although volunteering involves serving others, consider the personal benefits of volunteering, as well.

Hap LeCrone is a clinical psychologist. If you have topics you would like him to discuss, write to him at 4555 Lake Shore Drive, Waco, TX 76710 or e-mail him at