Mother Teresa once said that “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean.”
Volunteering is one of those virtues, which does not seek praise or financial profits, but strives to make this world a better place. Majority of American students participate in different social projects or become actively involved in local groups aimed at poverty reduction, educational initiatives or environmental protection work.
Texas, as the second largest U.S. State, provides numerous volunteer opportunities for high school and college students. There are many local, national, and international organizations operating daily that unite efforts and knowledge to help the most vulnerable members of our society.
Benefits of Volunteering
A lot of American high school students choose to mention diverse volunteering activities when applying for college, which is an important part for any admission committee. Same relates to individuals seeking employment or scholarship. It is not surprising as it speaks a lot about personal morals, ability to work in demanding situations, team cooperation, and commitment to a good cause. Choosing among available activities, a person becomes an integral part of the community, which, at times, tells way more than good GPA results. Some benefits of volunteering include:
- Career Advancement - One of the most important factors is career opportunities. As an example, Healthcare student may choose one of existing San Antonio volunteering nursing opportunities. It is not only practice and social cooperation, but a chance to use theoretical knowledge in real life situations. Gaining practical skills, it is possible to test personal ability to work in a particular environment without a long-term commitment. Once students proceed with local non-profits programs, it grants exposure to internships and scholarship competitions. Participation in volunteering projects is frequently mentioned in a professional resume, which is also crucial during interviews as employers seek for those who represent a clear social position.
- Networking Opportunities - another major part of volunteering service is teamwork and focus on social interaction. Meeting new people, a person gets engaged in a shared activity where every little detail matters. Regardless if you are an extrovert or have a difficult time talking to others, volunteering helps to reveal inner strengths and pushes individual towards new heights. Choosing a correct activity, service to others also helps to establish contacts with like-minded professionals, making friends and valuable bonds for studies and future career. When being a part of an important community, there are far more chances to get noticed by major companies or representatives of researchers in a field of participant’s interest.
- Mind & Body Benefits - there is scientifically proven strong therapeutic effect directly related to assistance at the animal shelter, libraries, assisting the elderly or work at the national park. Acting as a barrier against stress, sadness, anxiety, tiredness, and depression, service to others helps to overcome communication barriers and think differently. Since there is a meaningful connection to other people, it also provides an important benefit for the human body as it releases positive fluids and enhances brainwork to a greater extent. Serving as a sense of purpose, volunteering in a particular department helps to increase self-esteem and take risks where it is acceptable. According to numerous research works, those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate compared to those who avoid social work.
- Development of Strategic Thinking Skills - looking through several available options and researching information on the subject helps to develop strategic thinking and determine personal strengths and weaknesses. This process is akin to a self-evaluation test, which helps to challenge professional knowledge and even participate in an activity that seemed beyond reach. While it seems obvious that a future teacher can volunteer at a children’s camp, an aspiring mechanical engineer can teach children quite a lot when taking such an opportunity during the summer months. Implementing a strategic approach and innovative thinking, an individual tends to work harder, constantly seeking new opportunities.
Where to Volunteer
More than half of volunteer San Antonio city campaigns represent valuable city assets that help residents become involved and enhance not only their lives and future careers, but take responsibility in actual city’s management. Seeking for volunteering options, students often miss obvious opportunities, not realizing that people willing to participate and learn are always welcome.
- National Parks & Recreation - for those interested in recreational work and environmental protection in the local community, we recommend checking out “Adopt-A-Park” program, which focuses on protection and care for amazing city parks of San Antonio, TX. Volunteering services include litter pickup, graffiti removal, tree planting, park stewardship, small-scale planning of landscape and design.
- Animal Rescue Shelters - if working at the local vet clinic or managing animal adoption is your passion, become a part of Texas national animal care service. Responsibilities include bathing, grooming, socializing, and walking the animals. There are flexible schedules to fit most study and work schedules.
- Food Pantries - as San Antonio food bank volunteer, you receive unique chances of addressing crucial social issues like hunger and poverty. Serving Southwest Texas, food bank offers opportunities both for individuals and groups. Financial managers, sociologists, accountants, journalists, educators, engineers, nursing personnel, people with all or no background are welcome since even $1 can provide 7 meals for people in need.
- Local Libraries - library lovers from 14 and up should not miss an opportunity to join the San Antonio Public Library volunteering service. Some of the duties include computer work, scanning documents, work in the Genealogy department, getting returned books sorted, assisting people in the library, and much more!
- Political Campaigns - most opportunities in this field include internships and participation in diverse national campaigns. Regardless what your primary discipline is, there are projects for any taste with varying length and list of commitments. A safe bet would be looking through Volunteering Match for the State of Texas with a focus on The Borgen Project. Combining national politics with foreign relations, it invites volunteers to combat poverty and low education accessibility in developing countries.
- Retirement Homes - turning to the local department of human services, there is work with the elderly that goes beyond usual retirement homes work. Nursing students, educators, psychologists, and many other specialists can participate in daily and special occasion events that deal with seniors and their involvement in social spheres. It also includes special training sessions with a focus on mental health and adapting to challenging situations as is the case with senior homes. While most volunteering opportunities are available Monday - Friday, there are flexible schedules and scholarship support programs offered.
- Aviation - Engineers, social sciences students or any resident living in San Antonio can enjoy the unique benefits of volunteering at the local international airport, which includes special ambassador positions. Responsibilities include much more than just greeting passengers or providing directions. It is also possible to participate in psychological assistance once it is necessary. Help reunite lost passengers, explain differences about connecting flights or provide emergency help contacts immediately. With over 200 volunteers constantly working at the airport, it is a great chance to show strong personal skills and professional knowledge.
- Development Services - this branch of social work is available year round and belongs to the most requested services. It includes various individual programs where a person receives a special plan with up to 1-2 hours of daily work, depending on the chosen program. Supply kits for individual tasks are provided free of charge. Most frequent challenges include graffiti prevention, cleaning, and a list of educational projects. Such work involves active cooperation with businesses and local organizations, which is another great opportunity to get noticed and make a difference. As a Code Enforcement Services program, it is also a part of the National Parks & Recreation Zones campaign. Remember about filling in an application before choosing a preferred program.
- Historic Preservation - According to Historic Preservation website, there is quite a lot to choose for people coming from diverse professional and social backgrounds. As San Antonio resident, anyone can become a helpful city tour guide, offer assistance with important social surveys, help in re-creation of old city’s parts, assist with storage of historical information or participate in community events with a focus on the U.S. history. The State offers countless opportunities for educators as it is possible to get involved with scouting. Knowledge of basic Spanish is highly encouraged when taking cultural tours through archives and bilingual information. It is a great experience allowing people to feel that they can make a positive difference.
Reasons Why Volunteering Matters
Not a single act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted, that makes each minute spent volunteering an important building block leading to long-lasting changes. Being responsible citizens, students in the United States choose various social programs and community services to establish their own vision and challenge social injustice.
Volunteering and service to others reveal the best qualities in a human being, uniting people of different opinions. It teaches everyone to cooperate and find the most efficient solutions. Volunteering service in practice is much alike to work of a caring architect who evaluates, designs and plans safe, efficient houses that are built to last for decades.