Winter is coming and the homeless population lives on the street in the cold. They have nowhere to go for warmth. I look in my closet and I have many warm coats and scarves. Half of them, I have not worn in years. I plan to donate some of my coats this winter. I volunteer because there are hurting people in this city who need help. They need community. They need a safe place to come and receive the help they need. They need to know they will not be judged, but lovingly cared for. I volunteer because I want to be part of something bigger than myself. I volunteer because not everyone has a warm coat, a warm bed or a warm meal to go home to.
Before starting my odyssey I had gotten overly comfortable with living in my own little world, but now I want to live a life with purpose. I want to encourage other volunteers to do the same. There have been many studies showing the effects of volunteering. For me, a study only cements what I have felt since starting my journey into volunteering. One of these such studies was performed by the UnitedHealth Group and studied how volunteering positively impacts your physical health. Out of those participating in the study over 76 percent reported feeling physically healthier and having a reduction of stress . A huge majority who participated attributed their improved overall mood to volunteering. In addition to the impact volunteering can have on your physical health, it can also help you boost future career options and learn and develop new skills. A study conducted by TimeBank found that 73 percent of employers recruit candidate with volunteer experience over candidate without a background volunteering . Without help from volunteers, non-profits cannot provide their services to those needing assistance. Without these services, those in need remain in need. Non-profits are often the only hope people in need have. There are people in need everywhere you look. The question is whether or not you will choose to see them. Do you see them for who they are or for who you presume they are? The more you get involved in volunteering, the more you will begin to realize that many of your assumptions about the poor are wrong. They each have a story. They each just want a chance to be heard. Take a moment, listen to them tell you about their life. I guarantee you will walk away with a new perspective on their struggles, as well as your own. I can speak for myself and say that the more I listen to the hurting people in our city, the less I complain. I am not so quick to judge the man standing on the corner asking for spare change. I am quicker to listen and help when a need arises. I will leave you with a quote from Dorothy Day that really expresses why volunteering has meant so much to me; I hope it impacts you as well.
“We must talk about poverty, because people insulated by their own comfort lose sight of it.”- Dorothy Day
 “Doing Good is Good for You,” UnitedHealth Group, 2013. http://www.unitedhealthgroup.com/~/media/UHG/PDF/2013/UNH-Health-Volunteering-Study.ashx
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