When I was a young lad, too young to legally work, but too old for day camps, I spent summer hours volunteering.
My first summer I spent changing hospital bedding, assisting nurses with non clinical things (this was well before nurse techs, PCA’s, etc.), and being a friendly face and listening ear to patients. Sometimes I would drive the book cart around to see if anyone was interested in reading, sometimes I would just watch TV with someone. It was not a bad way to spend a couple hours a week (and to get a discounted lunch to boot!).
As mentioned, I once had ambitions of pursuing a different kind of therapy. Thus, I spent other summers in physical therapy clinics, making ice bags, restocking supplies, and again supporting patients as needed. In the end, these were all valuable experiences that exposed me to serving others, but more importantly it got me away from thinking of myself, took me out of my comfort zone, and it opened my eyes to challenges that others faced, and with which I gratefully did not have to cope.
Most recently I got to volunteer at the US Pro Cycling National Championships. Not only was this the 1st time that I had volunteered for an event, but it was also the 1st time that volunteering didn’t require direct interaction with the people I was serving. As a course marshall, my primary responsibilities were to keep the cyclists and motorcade on the race route by preventing them from missing the turn. As a cycling fan, this was fun to be up close to the action. It was also a privilege to help my city play host to the National Championships.
There is certainly no shortage of organizations, events, festivals, that require volunteers. Many theaters rely on volunteer ushers in exchange for being able to watch the show, concert, play, etc. for free. Even large events such as national championships, multi day music festivals, or neighborhood festivals rely on volunteers to help things run smoothly.
Volunteering is a great way to meet people, for young people to get some experience that doesn’t require a job permit, and it allows everyone older or younger to be social, active, and feel connected to their community. In the end there are many positive benefits to volunteering that are good for the mind, body, and soul. So why not get out and lend a hand?