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Why Volunteer?

The answer is as individual as you are!

Volunteers are West Virginia’s greatest natural resource. An ethic of helping and service are inherent parts of our State’s culture. In West Virginia, extraordinary volunteers are involved daily in a wide range of activities, both formal and informal, in every imaginable aspect of local and regional life. Volunteering is a powerful force for change and for community growth and development. The commitment of time and energy West Virginians have given reflects their dedication to improving lives and represents a vital contribution to our communities and society as a whole.

  • Giving is Also Receiving

    When you volunteer, you give your time, energy, skills and talents. You give to your family and friends, to your neighbors, to your community. Sometimes, you are giving to people you don’t know, to people hundreds of miles away. Giving is one of the reasons why people volunteer. Their contributions to others and to their communities bring them feelings of self-fulfillment and the knowledge that they have made a difference.

    Volunteering is also a way of “giving back.” It’s a way of recognizing countless others who, in big ways and small, have made life around them richer and better through their donations of time and effort.

    But there is more to volunteering than giving. As a volunteer, you also receive! You reap personal benefits and enhance your personal growth:

    • Discover Your Strengths and Talents

    • You may discover hidden strengths and talents when you volunteer. You may be able to assume responsibilities or take on challenges you didn't know you could do.

    • Heighten Your Social Awareness

    • You’ll learn to appreciate and work with people's differences as a volunteer. As a result, you'll stay in touch with your community’s needs and issues. Your awareness of the challenges and barriers to change of those in your community will grow through real experience.

    • Gain Self Confidence

    • A great advantage of volunteering is getting to practice adjusting to new situations, people and experiences. The more practice you get, the greater your self-awareness and self-confidence.

    • Build a Sense of Independence

    • Volunteering empowers you. Many volunteer jobs require you to act independently and take initiative. Such jobs give you a sense of control over your own life: you set your goals, make your choices and follow your routines. When you know your capabilities, you have the power to change your life and the lives of others.

    • Expand Your Social Circle

    • Why do some volunteers work without pay? They'll probably tell you they work for the fun of it. Yes, volunteering is usually fun. Remember, volunteers have chosen their jobs carefully and are appreciated for their contributions. They're doing something for the love of it. Volunteer at a music festival and you'll meet people who love music. Volunteer at a hospital and enjoy the rewards of giving comfort. Volunteer with a community theater and exercise your talents—not just in acting but in lighting, sound, construction, directing, costumes, makeup, sales and promotion.

    • Students Can Learn Through Service

    • Service-learning refers to "helping" activities undertaken by students as part of the regular school curriculum. Service-learning offers young people opportunities to try new tasks and to take on new roles. It is active learning in the familiar environment of the local community. (And often, it gives you a terrific chance to compete in job markets after graduation.)

    • Enjoy Better Health!

    • Volunteering can give your mind, soul, heart, and body a real boost! You'll be happier and healthier and have a purpose and greater sense of self-satisfaction. Volunteering can even lower your stress level, heighten your immune system and help you sleep better at night. Go ahead. Give it a try!

    From a career perspective, volunteering has a lot to offer

  • Develop Your Skills

  • When you volunteer, you gain skills and knowledge that help you when you look for a paying job. You also develop qualities useful in all workplaces: punctuality, dependability, an ability to work in a team and the ability to handle pressure. Then there are your self-management and work-readiness skills. Everyone needs practice in decision making, problem solving and leadership.

  • Gain Work Experience

  • Do you have real work experience? The kind employers want—that roll-up-your-sleeves-and-dig-in work experience? If not, how will you get it? You can't get the experience employers want if you can't get a job in the first place…right? Wrong!

    Volunteer jobs provide hands-on learning experience. They give you the experience and qualifications necessary to develop a résumé and portfolio.

  • Find Out About the Work World

  • Which job environment is right for you? You'll discover the realities of the work world when you volunteer. You'll gain practical knowledge about organizations and how they really work on an everyday basis.

  • Learn to Market Yourself

  • Marketing your best assets to future employers will be easier after filling out job application forms and going to interviews in the volunteer world.

  • Explore Career Options

  • You may have the “ability,” but what about “suitability”? Volunteering gives you a chance to learn whether or not you're really suited to a particular line of work. Taking on a volunteer position will ease the move from school to work. And if you've been working and want to try something new, take a volunteer job to test the waters before you jump in.

    Volunteering allows you to work in a supportive environment. You'll learn from the experience—including much that you didn't expect to learn—and the community will benefit, too. You've got nothing to lose and everything to gain.

    Many people volunteering is a lifetime activity. What you gain from volunteering will change as your life and experience grows. There will always be new skills, new experiences and new feelings of satisfaction. Volunteering can be hard work but it is rarely dull. And there may be times when life doesn't allow you to volunteer—but you can always return to volunteering when you need it to enrich your life. Take joy in the knowledge that you can always give. But volunteering will do a whole lot more. It will develop you as a person, too. You will discover new parts of yourself, make friends, try new experiences and know the satisfaction of helping others and being a part of a community.

The volunteer interview—don’t sell yourself short

Volunteer West Virginia is a volunteer matching system—but it does not replace the essential element of the volunteer interview. Our partner agencies will interview you to make sure that your volunteer placement is appropriate and fits your needs and desires. It also gives you a chance to interview the agency to make sure you want to volunteer for them and to ask them specific questions about the position that may not have been answered in the job description they provided online.

A volunteer interview is a great opportunity to practice for future paid work interviews. It gives you an edge over the competition. You’ll know what to expect and you’ll develop the skills and confidence that come with experience. And remember—ask for tips and pointers after the interview. The manager of volunteers who interviewed you is there to support your growth as a person. She or he will be glad to help.

During the interview ask the volunteer organization:

  • What volunteer work will I be doing?
  • How much time does this position require?
  • What skills will I be able to use and develop?
  • Do I have a trial period? How long is it?
  • Who is my supervisor?
  • What kind of environment will I be working in?
  • Does your organization provide me with a written evaluation and reference?
  • Will you need to run any background checks on me?
  • Are there any immunizations required for the position?

What Do You Know?

  Volunteers are nice to have around but aren’t really vital to the organization.

Volunteers are involved in almost every aspect of community life. Their contributions are absolutely essential to our society.

  Volunteers are amateurish. They are less competent than paid professionals.

Many volunteer tasks require much skill and experience. Volunteer activity is work that makes a real contribution to our communities.

  It doesn’t cost any money to recruit, train, and support volunteers.

Organizations must have adequate funds to run their volunteer programs and qualified people to manage them.

  Organizations have volunteers because they are free labor.

Volunteers are not free labor. They offer many advantages to an organization. They bring knowledge and perspective from a variety of backgrounds. Often they are seen as objective participants when an anization is developing programs and policies.

  Volunteers have responsibilities as well as rights.

Volunteers affect the whole organization. They must respect the organization's goals and be willing to give the time and commitment to get the job done.

  There are many ways to volunteer.

Volunteers can donate their time and efforts as individuals, groups, or families - in person or on-line.

  Volunteers donate their time anywhere, anytime, to do anything.

Volunteers have unique skills and interests. A good volunteer program matches them with the right job and supports their efforts.

volunteerWV.org is a program of the
West Virginia Commission for National and Community Service
710 Central Avenue, Charleston, WV 25302
Phone: 558-0111 or 1-800-WV-HELPS
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