How Volunteer Work Can Help Heal Your Heart
It probably comes as no surprise that volunteer work is good for you.
The Mayo Clinic reports that volunteering not only improves mental health with a generous dopamine release, but it also promotes physical health as well as social connectedness and a sense of purpose. If you’ve ever felt a warm glow on your insides after doing something nice for someone else, you know what we’re talking about.
So, why not make volunteer work a part of your divorce healing?
At Hello Divorce, we’re not just interested in helping you through your divorce with easy-to-understand online divorce plans and other services. We’re also interested in your personal well-being during and after your divorce. That’s why we offer so many resources beyond the scope of the legal divorce process.
The great thing about volunteer work is, unlike most day jobs, you decide what you will do and when you will do it. You choose the type of work you will do and the degree of commitment you give.
Types of volunteer work
Money might make the world go around, but many organizations would not thrive as they do without the generous help of volunteers who accept no pay for their services. Here is a partial list of the types of volunteer work available.
You might work directly with people in need, sharing your time, resources, or support. For example, you might rake leaves for an elderly neighbor, provide free tutoring for neighborhood kids, or spend time socializing with residents at a nursing home.
If you prefer working behind the scenes, you might assume a role that involves planning, organizing, or other administrative tasks for your community. For example, you might organize the shelves at a local food pantry or help produce a community newsletter.
You might spend time at an animal shelter tending to the occupants’ various needs. You might transport animals to adoption events or medical care appointments. You might perform clerical work for the organization, foster pets, or train future service animals. Or, you might use your clerical or computer skills to perform administrative tasks for your chosen organization.
You might use your time and voice to raise awareness about an issue close to your heart. For example, you might run an information booth at a fair, canvas homes to spread the word about a political policy or candidate, help people register to vote, or share your talents in other ways that serve your cause.
You might help with the setup, take-down, or execution of events that require lots of helping hands to run. A few examples are blood drives, theater productions, benefit concerts, and river clean-ups.
If you prefer to stay home, you might enjoy a virtual volunteer opportunity such as entering data for an organization, writing or editing, or creating graphic designs. You don’t have to use a computer to perform volunteer work at home, either. You might knit warm hats for a community closet, prepare taxes for citizens in need, or build birdhouses to give away.
Too busy to commit to an hours-long volunteer job? Consider microvolunteering instead. Examples of microvolunteering include donating money to a cause, giving blood, helping out at niche websites like BeMyEyes.com, or giving microloans to in-need people around the world through a site like ProjectsAbroad.
How to find volunteer opportunities
If you think volunteer work might ease your heartache, recharge your spirit, or help you meet new friends as you begin an exciting new chapter of life, we have good news: There is a volunteer position out there for you. But what is it?
Once you start looking, you’re likely to be overwhelmed by the enormity of what you find. There is so much need in this world, and there are so many ways you can pitch in to help fill those needs.
Here are some places you might start your search.
Check these online resources
Check with local groups
Visit, call, or check the website of any of these local organizations to see if they need help or know someone who does:
- Nursing homes
- Food pantries
- Community centers
- Animal shelters
- Soup kitchens
There are volunteer-related apps you can download to your phone to find local volunteer opportunities. Visit your app store to see what’s available.
Benefits of volunteering: Hello Divorce people speak out
We could tell you about the benefits of volunteering, but we find it much more meaningful to let a few of our volunteering superheroes at Hello Divorce do it for us.
Jenn, Account Manager
As a kid, Jenn volunteered with large organizations like the American Cancer Society and The Salvation Army. Now a parent herself, she volunteers at her children’s school. One of her favorite tasks is caring for the school garden – weeding, composting, and planting alongside the kids. In addition to the joy she gets from cultivating new life in the garden, she loves getting to know and bond with the kids in a fun and natural setting.
Jenn also fosters dogs who need homes for a local dog rescue, and she volunteers with her local chapter of a national organization called Guide Dogs for the Blind.
“Find something you’re interested in, and reach out to a local organization with questions. They may be able to offer you volunteering opportunities or refer you to another organization. Something as simple as taking a dog for a walk at the shelter would provide immense benefit! Seek out non-profits in any category that you have an interest in, and contact their volunteer department--I know you'll find something that suits you! The best part of volunteering is that the organization you are donating your time to will be incredibly flexible based on your availability and interests." – Jenn
The work Jenn does is made even more special by the fact that she shares it with her children and spouse. She said, “Being able to give back in a non-monetary way has greatly impacted our entire family. We've opened up our home to a lot of people and dogs and have formed incredible relationships.”
Karin, Sales Associate
Karin's parents introduced her to volunteer work as a child. Nowadays, she volunteers with her own son. They have worked together for the Prisoners Literature Project (PLP), a group founded in 1972 that receives letters from prisoners all over the country and sends them books to read in response to their requests. And during the COVID shutdown, mom and son worked side-by-side assembling food bags for the needy with their local food bank.
"Doing a volunteer shift anywhere definitely brings perspective. No matter how up in my head I get about first world problems, a volunteer shift will always bring me back to realizing how much I have to be grateful for." – Karin
There are so many organizations that need volunteer help, from museums to animal shelters to food banks, that it can be overwhelming at first. Karin and her son found the PLP project on volunteermatch.com, a website that matches people with local nonprofits that need volunteers.
Mari, Co-founder and Vice President
Mari is Hello Divorce’s co-founder and VP. She has done a variety of volunteer gigs, from voter registration to land clean-ups and animal shelter support. Lately, she has been volunteering at her children’s school. While she acknowledges that the world benefits from volunteer contributions, she firmly believes that the volunteers benefit even more: “I’m a tired, busy mom, so it often feels like there isn’t a moment to spare. But making time to help is energizing and fulfilling, even if it’s just an hour once a week or every few months.”
"Volunteer work is so important and so necessary. It helps me define my values and follow through with the type of person I hope to be. Especially if you are feeling down, volunteering helps you work through the funk and makes you feel good about yourself.” – Mari
If you've thought about volunteering as a way of getting back "out there," we at Hello Divorce give you two thumbs up! And don't be surprised if you get more than new experiences, new friends, and plenty of warm fuzzies. Volunteering truly can help the heart heal. It's the perfect illustration of the age-old question animal lovers like Jenn have been asking forever: "Who rescued whom?"