Giving a gift to someone without expecting anything in return is one of the most loving things a person can do, says Freda Deskin, Ph.D. For those that don’t have access to or don’t want to simply spend money on a gift, a gift of your time is one of the most selfless acts a person can do. But volunteering isn’t just a one-way street, Dr. Freda Deskin says. Volunteering has some benefits for the giver as well. Some benefits of doing service for others are very personal and remain under the surface but are, in fact, a definite benefit for the giver. Here, Dr. Freda Deskin talks about some of the ways volunteering has helped someone.
Volunteering is a $2.8 billion a year industry, Dr. Freda Deskin says, which is growing every year as more and more people donate their time and resources to nonprofit businesses and their community. “It consists of many types of activities,” she adds, “but one that is near and dear to my heart is community work.” When people think of community service, they usually think about that which is mandated by the court system, Dr. Freda Deskin says. However, it’s so much more than that. For example, think of all the services that your city or town provides, she begins. Many of these are unpaid positions that require the services of volunteers. These are people just like you who have decided to give back to their community in the form of volunteer work, Dr. Freda Deskin adds.
One of the biggest benefits I see in volunteering is that it helps you gain compassion for others, Dr. Freda Deskin says. “Of course, it helps the organization you’re volunteering for, but I’m talking about the benefits the volunteer gets,” she explains. When you help someone less fortunate than yourself without any expectation, what you learn is compassion.
Learning compassion like this is priceless, she says, especially for children who haven’t been exposed to much beyond their own neighborhood. Dr. Freda Deskin says she has seen several teens turn into mature, compassionate adults when the family volunteers in their own community on a regular basis. “I think it’s about seeing someone in a situation you might have never thought about,” she says. “Sometimes it makes people stop and think and be thankful for all they have.”
Dr. Freda Deskin says she has seen volunteering give meaning to the life of the volunteer. Just the act of giving of yourself and seeing the gratitude of others can make such a huge difference in your outlook on life. It makes you feel good to contribute to others in this way, she says. “I know it has made a difference in mine.”