These days, it’s hard to get anything for free. Despite the high cost of living, 12.7 million Canadians manage to donate one very valuable commodity – their time. National Volunteer Week runs from April 10 – 16 and it’s a time to celebrate Canada’s volunteers. After reading some great articles on volunteering, including one from the Huffington Post, we decided to provide a bit more info and list our top five benefits of volunteering.

1. Improve Self Esteem and Mental Health

It should come as no surprise that we feel better about ourselves when helping others. Research shows that volunteering reduces stress and improves mood. When focusing on others, feelings of joy, accomplishment and optimism outweigh tension and anxiety. More and more Canadians believe in the added benefits of volunteering. In fact, the number of Canadian volunteers is growing faster than our overall population.

2. Strengthen Communities

How we spend our time and who we spend our time with, impacts the quality of our communities. In 2010, 93 per cent of Canadian volunteers said they volunteered to contribute to their communities. Differences are unavoidable, but volunteering brings people together to work towards a common goal. When interacting with people outside of our everyday lives, relationships are developed, knowledge is shared and a stronger community is formed. Volunteering creates bonds that strengthen a community for future generations.

3. Develop Professional Skills

Ask any millennial and they’ll tell you how challenging job searching can be. Volunteering is a simple way to explore a career path, develop professional skills and separate yourself from the competition. Sometimes finding the right career path takes trial and error. Volunteering is an great way to gain experience in a field you’re interested in, while at the same time helping others. It’s win-win.

4. Stay Connected

It’s easy to keep up to date with all the gadgets available, but volunteering allows face-to-face connections technology can’t provide. Think about it this way, social media can make suggestions for people to connect based on followers. Going to a volunteer event gives you the opportunity to connect face-to-face with people who share similar interests outside of your digital networks. Getting involved in our communities reminds us how important it is to step away from our screens and connect with those who make a difference in our communities.

5. Opportunities for Everyone

No matter your skill-set or availability, there are volunteer opportunities for everyone. All you need is the willingness to get involved in the community. Don’t forget to be creative with volunteering. If there is a specific organization or group of people you would like to help, reach out to them and explain your commitment and interest. Free help is very rarely turned down.

CVC’s success wouldn’t be possible without the strong commitment of our volunteers. Next week, join us as we say THANK YOU to those helping to make the Credit River watershed a thriving environment that protects, connects and sustains us. Visit our volunteer page to learn more and get involved.

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