Giving back takes time. It’s a weekend toiling in the sun to build a new outdoor learning garden. It’s an early wake-up to serve meals to hungry families at the local food pantry. And it’s that extra effort to greet kids at school who need a boost of happiness before the morning bell.
It isn’t glamorous or easy, but the rewards of community service are worth it. From instilling our neighbors with renewed purpose to building the next generation of leaders, here are four powerful ways service makes a difference for our community and in our own lives.
1. It promotes greater understanding. As volunteers, we interact with individuals of diverse backgrounds. These experiences deepen our connections to other cultures. Evidence suggests they also increase our empathy for perspectives outside our social circles.
2. It broadens horizons. We’ve all likely been guilty of "living in a bubble." Volunteering and service encourage us to step outside of our comfort zones. We meet new people, engage with new organizations and even explore new career opportunities.
3. It encourages in-demand skills. Service helps us sharpen our skills and develop new ones. Take City Year, the organization I work for, as an example. As student success coaches, AmeriCorps members become adept problem-solvers, communicators and relationship builders. These abilities are crucial for success in today’s fast-paced workplace.
4. It inspires further action. Service often sets off a domino effect. We become invested in the causes, organizations or people and want to do more. Whether it’s another volunteer shift or recruiting a friend to join us for a fundraising event, giving back promotes consistent civic engagement.
Make a difference, build a stronger future and serve. It’s that simple.
Courtney Brown is the director of impact for City Year Little Rock, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping students and schools succeed.