Benefits of Volunteering in
By Michael McIntyre, Urban
Regional Extension Agent, Mobile County
of children recently volunteered to establish a community garden
in Mobile County, Alabama. At the end of the project they asked
about the benefits of their action? This is a question that prompted
me to look further into the benefits of being a volunteer, particularly
A volunteer is someone who offers their
time and talents to helping others with no expectation of pay
or other material benefits. In community gardening, once the
land has been acquired, there is a need to find a few good community
volunteers to start preparing the soil for planting. Since there
are challenges in getting volunteers, it is important for first-time
volunteers to have a good initial experience. For example, consider
providing water and snacks. Secondly, make the volunteer process
more fun than work oriented. Thirdly, inform community members
about why the garden is being established. The word will spread
and eventually, more people will get involved in the effort.
There are numerous benefits that can be attained from community
gardening. Volunteers exercise while gardening, thus promote
healthy lifestyles. A study funded by the Ontario Ministry of
Health (1991) found that volunteering can improve self-esteem,
reduce high blood pressure, combat social isolation, reduce the
impact of stress, and change the body's immune system.
The learning opportunities in volunteering
are also tremendous because people with diverse skills come together
and share their experiences. For instance, someone who is skilled
in carpentry may teach another volunteer how to nail the timber
together, while a volunteer that is knowledgeable about plants
can share his or her expertise with the carpenter.
The National Survey of Giving, Volunteering
and Participating found that 76 percent of volunteer respondents
reported an improvement in interpersonal skills. An additional
66 percent said they improved their communication skills, and
64 percent said they increased their knowledge about issues relating
to health, women, the environment, and politics when volunteering.
Volunteering in gardening definitely
helps youth to become involved in community service and to stay
away from drugs and other adverse activities. When students are
involved in volunteer work, they are less likely to engage in
risky behavior such as using drugs or skipping school.
So, whenever you are called upon to serve
your community, consider investing your time and energy in creating
and maintaining a community garden. Contact Michael McIntyre
at 334-259-1265 or email@example.com
if you would like to volunteer for a community garden in the
Community Literacy of Ontario. (n.d.). The benefits of being a literacy volunteer. Retrieved October
Knoke, D. (1990, June). Networks of political
action: Toward theory construction. Social Forces, 68(4),
Wilson, J., & Musick, M. (1999, Autumn).
The effects of volunteering on the volunteer. Law and Contemporary
Problems, 62(4), 141-168.
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