Do you volunteer in your community? Have you ever considered the positive impact you might have on others when you offer up the gift of service? Or the intangible benefits that giving back creates for you personally or professionally?
Community involvement through volunteering is a wonderful opportunity to connect to possibilities not always available through professional pursuits or vocations. It’s also a wonderful way to develop your natural leadership skills, while making a difference in the community where you live and work.
Research from the Corporation for National and Community Service suggests that volunteering provides health benefits in addition to social ones. Those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.
CARE2 offers these tips for becoming a volunteer:
- Choose wisely/research and do your homework: Seek out an organization whose mission speaks to you. For example, if you interest is in horses or animals, consider volunteering in a rescue organization.
- Ask for/offer referrals: Once you find something you love, spreading the word is a great way for further the cause. Use social media to share information about your charitable initiatives.
- Use volunteer opportunities to strengthen your team, families and your personal network – participate in events as a group and have some fun along the way
- Consider your skills: Ask yourself what you have to offer
- Learn something new: Trying things that may be out of your comfort zone forces you to learn and adjust. Volunteering is an opportunity to stretch yourself, while adding to your toolkit of skills and experiences that could benefit other areas of your life.
Earlier this year I became a volunteer member of the Kawartha Haliburton Children’s Aid Society Board of Directors and today had the pleasure of presenting Mitchell’s Medals to almost 40 children in care. Every year, over 500 Canadians die needlessly in unintentional water-related fatalities. A high percentage of these preventable deaths are young children. One such child was Mitchell Temple-Medhurst who died tragically at the Port Stanley Beach in 2004. Mitchell had been in the care of a Children’s Aid Society at the time of his death and the event prompted an inquest and a complete review of recommendations for water-based activities for children in care. Nine years ago, Family and Children’s Services of St. Thomas & Elgin began an initiative called Mitchell’s Medals to honour his memory and to encourage children in care to learn techniques that could one day save their life.
Today, the Kawartha-Haliburton Children’s Aid Society held its 2nd Mitchell’s Medals for children in the care of the society and for those served by the Society who are living with family members. Parents, caregivers, foster parents, KHCAS staff and volunteers were present and together we all cheered with enthusiasm as every child who participated in the program this year was awarded with a bronze, silver or gold medal depending on the level of water safety they were able to achieve. It’s the kind of event that makes my heart sing and it was an honour to be part of it.
In his book, “The Courage to Lead: Transform Self, Transform Society,” Brian Stanfield wrote: “When we trust our own wisdom and truth, we have the possibility of becoming leaders who transform our society from our own unique place. This involves reflecting deeply on our own life experiences and saying yes to life. We can then lead from this yes stance. Our human energy becomes a positive force, and in turn affects the energy of those with whom we live and work. In an environment of positive energy, the ‘impossible’ can happen.”
What are the needs of the world that you think about? What talents, passions and skills do you have? What or the ways your gifts and talents could be used to make a difference for any or all of these causes? What are you next steps to take this forward and connect to move beyond the ‘impossible’ to create what’s possible?
Jennifer Garland is the Owner/Program Director for The Mane Intent. At The Mane Intent, we create unique learning experiences for individuals, couples, small groups and teams interested in exploring what’s possible in life and work with a little horse power. Programing includes Leading With Intent: Horse-Assisted Coaching for Business Professionals. Book your session or team builder today at www.themaneintent.ca