How to Connect with Your Community by Volunteering

An image of a group of volunteers at a food bank.

One of the biggest challenges after incarceration is finding a meaningful way to connect with your community. Volunteer work is the perfect way to renew your place in the community while giving back, showing gratitude, and making a difference in the lives of others. Additionally, some opportunities can lead to jobs and a long-term support network.

Benefits of Volunteering

Volunteering allows you to connect to your community and make it a better place. Even helping out with the smallest tasks can make a real difference to the lives of people, animals, and organizations in need. And volunteering is a two-way street: It can benefit you and your family as much as the cause you choose to help. Dedicating your time as a volunteer helps you make new friends, expand your network, and boost your social skills.

Volunteering Increases Self-Confidence

Volunteering can provide a healthy boost to your self-confidence, self-esteem, and life satisfaction. You are doing good for others and the community, which provides a natural sense of accomplishment. Your role as a volunteer can also give you a sense of pride and identity. The better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive view of your life and future goals.

Volunteering Combats Depression

Reducing the risk of depression is another important benefit of volunteering. A key risk factor for depression is social isolation. Volunteering keeps you in regular contact with others and helps you develop a solid support system. Working with pets and other animals has also been shown to improve mood and reduce stress and anxiety.

Volunteering Helps You Stay Physically Healthy

Volunteering is good for your health at any age, but it’s especially beneficial in older adults. Studies have found that those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate than those who do not, even when considering factors like the health of the participants. Volunteering has also been shown to lessen symptoms of chronic pain or heart disease.

Volunteer opportunities to build in your community

Ways to Engage with Your Community

Public Speaking

Never underestimate the power of your story. Many communities look for successful reentrants to motivate the youth and teens that may be on a path to criminal behavior. Your skills and experience can make a huge impact on individuals struggling to stay crime-free. Telling your story has so much power, and there are many outlets to do so including schools, hospitals, libraries, and community centers. Find opportunities in your area.

Local Food Banks

Most communities have food banks and soup kitchens. Your contribution and motivation can be instrumental in changing someone’s perspective. Visit our resource map to find a food bank near you.

Habitat for Humanity®

This non-profit organization builds and repairs housing for low-income families. If you enjoy working outdoors and have an interest in construction, this is a great place to start. Depending on your location, some sites offer free training and technical support, so you can learn as your go. Discover ways to get involved.

Find the Right Organization for You

Your city or town may have a website where you can find local volunteer opportunities. If not, or if you are looking for something specific, check out VolunteerMatch, a national website that connects individuals to non-profit organizations. They have a diverse range of causes that include working with animals, people with disabilities, advocacy and human rights, the homeless, and much more.

Published On: October 5th, 2021|Categories: Support System Resources|

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!