Three Things you Learn from Volunteering

November 10th, 2016
Photo by Kara Gleaves

Three Things You Learn From Volunteering

If you’re like me, you look at volunteering as the thing you do to get ahead in life.

Your high school may require you to do volunteer hours so that you’ll be a more competitive college applicant and potential employers may look for volunteer experience as proof that you know how to balance your time. 

Lately though, I’ve realized that volunteering is much more valuable than its ability to get you to the next level in your education or career- it can change you. So, in honor of my time volunteering at The Bethlehem Center, here are Three (unexpected) Things You Learn From Volunteering.

1. Spending time with people who don't look like you can eliminate stereotypes

I’ve been volunteering at a nonprofit organization that works with inner-city youth and families now for three and a half years. Never was it more apparent that I struggled with stereotyping until I worked long enough with the community to see people act contrary to the way I imagined they would act. 

Not only did volunteering expose the lies I believed, but it also helped me understand the community and their culture.

2. Difficult people (or kids) are not lost causes

I once worked with a young lady who got in trouble a lot- not exactly the candidate that you would trust or put in charge of other students.

One day during a community event she asked if she could help me. I was hesitant but I said yes. She was the best helper ever- running food, engaging volunteers, and following my directions! 

That day, I learned that her behavior is not a reason not to challenge her and that I should look for different ways to engage with her.

Now I look forward to spending time with her.

3. Everyone needs consistency

People that we volunteer with are just like us- they want consistency. The more you come, the more they open up. The more you shatter those stereotypes, the more you learn how to interact with them. 

Stay away too long and the people you work with may not be as open. Don’t worry though, they’ll open up again once you spend more time with them.

Volunteering can teach you so much more than these three lessons that I got out of it, and it’s so much more than something to add to your resume- it’s a way to grow.  

No matter where you go, you can always learn something from the people you serve and they can always learn something from you.

What have you learned by volunteering? I would love to hear about it and learn from your experiences so please leave a comment below!

Gloria Dubose

Gloria is now the Projects & Marketing Manager at The Bethlehem Center. 

She started at the Beth as an unpaid intern and she's been here ever since doing everything from administration to event planning and social media.

She's a proud Moc (UTC alumni) passionate about learning everything Latin (including Spanish).

To connect with Gloria email [email protected].

Posted by The Beth | Topic: Community

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