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April 25, 2024

How volunteering for a semester changed my life

Have you ever wondered what your life would be like if you didn’t know how to pronounce the letter “e”?

That thought came up when I shadowed a literacy tutor during her session at a local elementary school for Reading Partners. I started my internship in late March of this year and even after only volunteering a few weeks, I’ve learned that there are endless benefits to donating your time.

Why is volunteering so important?

The U.S Census Bureau and AmeriCorps researched this question and unveiled their findings in their 2023 report. In their research, they discovered that those who formally volunteered contributed to over 4.1 billion hours of service which had an estimated economic value of $122.9 billion.  

With every opportunity comes many benefits – and volunteering is no exception. Volunteering can help more than just your community, in fact, it has been proven to support many aspects of your personal life as well. 

a tutor volunteering to help a child learn to read

Helping others and creating bonds

Volunteering allows you to support others in times of need. While you’re donating your time, you can have the power to bring your community together and form deep connections with those you surround yourself with. 

In fact, Reading Partners recently published a blog discussing the positive impact volunteering has on creating a sense of community and helping individuals feel less lonely. In the blog, you can find more information on the loneliness epidemic and learn more about how volunteering can combat it.

Professional and personal outcomes

Volunteering can help you build leadership skills and allow you to take action on matters you care about. You’ll also have the chance to advance your career or discover passions related to it by volunteering in sectors aligning with your interests. Depending on where you volunteer, you can evolve multiple new skills such as communication and decision-making, both of which will aid your professional development.

Improving your physical and mental health

Researchers from the Journal of Happiness Studies examined data from 70,000 subjects based on their volunteer habits and mental health in the United Kingdom. The study found that those who volunteered within the past year were more satisfied with their lives and felt their overall health improved compared to those who didn’t. They concluded that volunteering can even help your physical and mental health.

The one question I ask you now is, “How do you want to make a difference in your community?”

a tutor volunteering to help a child learn to read

Why I chose to get involved with Reading Partners

One of the biggest reasons why I chose to volunteer at Reading Partners is because I realized that I wanted to make a difference in my community by helping children learn how to read. Reading is the foundation of all future learning, so once kids unlock their literacy skills, a whole world of knowledge soon follows. However, access to literacy support and resources varies widely among students in the U.S.

In fact, a report released by the New York Times found that 60 percent of students at a few high-poverty schools are behind in their reading. They also found that Black and Hispanic students, those who are from economically disadvantaged communities, as well as those with disabilities have fallen the most behind in their reading skills by no fault of their own. Volunteering with kids has made me realize how important it is for everyone to read. Whether you choose to get involved with a literacy cause like me, or another cause near to your heart, getting started is easier than you think.

How can you start?

There are countless volunteering opportunities within any community. But one way you can start is by researching what’s available near you. If you’re interested in helping kids in literacy like me, you can see if Reading Partners is currently in your community and get involved today! However, no matter how you decide to donate your time, you’ll always be able to make a difference.

The next time I went back to the local elementary school to shadow a Reading Partners tutor, I was able to see the same student move on to learn the rest of the alphabet’s pronunciation. This inspired me to sit down with the students and read a book with them. This opportunity has made me realize that I love to volunteer because I get to discover what I’m passionate about, as well as possibly help someone in need. Knowing I’m able to impact someone’s life so positively has left an amazing impact on me that I know will last a lifetime.

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