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Make Them Count! How to Change Your Life in 40 Volunteer Hours or Less

Group of volunteers walking in the park.

Before you volunteer your 40 required volunteer hours, you might have thought it was just something you needed to get out of the way. But many young Canadians quickly realized that volunteering can be something fun. Maybe it was that moment when the child you were tutoring finally ‘got’ what you were trying to teach them, or maybe someone sincerely thanked you and told you about the difference you made.

But volunteering can also help you. Here are six ways your 40 volunteer hours may give you work experience, change your perspective, or even make you happier.

1. Test a future career and get experience

Always wanted to teach kindergarten? Make sure you spend your volunteer hours working with kids! You might find out that you were right you would love it and get great experience that will benefit you later on. Or you might find out that you don’t like story time as much as you thought you would. You just saved yourself years of expensive courses and you can now pursue a career that’s right for you!

Depending on what you want to do, you should be able to find some way to test drive it through your 40 hours. Want to be a doctor or a nurse? Volunteer at a hospital or a nursing home. Want to be a lawyer? Help out at a legal clinic. What if you want to be an engineer? Sign up to help kids make robots.

Many employers love candidates who volunteer because it shows them that you’re passionate about your field.

2. Get happy

Helping others can boost your happiness! According to one study, happiness levels rose by 12% for those who volunteer every two to four weeks.

Among weekly volunteers, the resulting rise in happiness was 16% or the equivalent of having an income of $75,000 to $100,000 versus $20,000. The morale of this study? Volunteering can make you rich – in happiness.

3. Use your hobby

Love to take pictures? Sing? Act? Find a volunteer opportunity that will help you use and refine your passion. You can take pictures at a local community event, sing at a nursing home, or volunteer at a local non-profit theater company. You’ll have so much fun, you might keep doing it long after your 40 hours are up!

4. Win scholarships

Whether you’re headed to college or university, there is one thing that they both have in common – they’re expensive. But there are a lot of scholarships that reward students for volunteerism and leadership activities in their communities.

While you might have to do more than 40 hours to win awards, use your 40 hours to figure out how you want to make a difference. Then take the lead on organizing a massive local can drive, a tutorship program for at-risk youth, or a blood drive across your school district. You’ll find that it’s so meaningful to make a difference that it won’t matter if you win the scholarships or not.

5. Change your perspective

The best volunteer opportunities are those that widen our perspectives or open our minds. For your 40 hours, consider volunteering with people who you don’t normally get to interact with on a daily basis.

Maybe you don’t know very many older adults, or you’ve never really spoken to a homeless person. Volunteer at an organization that will allow you to get to know them better and broaden your horizon. You just might learn new things, become more compassionate, and make new friends.

6. Live longer

What if volunteering didn’t just make your life better in all sorts of amazing ways, but it also made it longer? One of study of active 90- and 100-year olds showed that those who remain devoted to a purpose in life live longer and happier. It might not be the secret to eternal life, but who wouldn’t want to potentially live a longer and happier life?

That’s just the start!

There are more benefits you’ll discover volunteering, including making great friends and contacts while volunteering, making memories, or having a lot of fun. Doing your 40 hours might even turn you into a lifelong volunteer!