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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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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!