I discovered firsthand how volunteering can build positive experiences that can
create personal fulfillment and success for everyone involved. A couple years ago,
I began volunteering with The Friendship Circle, a Jewish organization with over 80
global locations that serves individuals with special needs.
Originally, I wanted to become involved with the organization because it touched
a cord in my own life. My 18-year-old cousin was diagnosed with autism and I was
very close to her growing up. I felt by doing this I could help make an impact on my
local community, but also to learn and grow as a person.
THE FRIENDSHIP CIRCLE
As a volunteer, I work with the same child one to
two times per week. During this time we play
together, work on homework, or any recreational
activity that allows me to support my mentee. As
I’ve become more integrated with The Friendship
Circle’s mission, I’m excited to act as a board
member starting next year. Already, I’ve recruited
a number of friends to join the organization.
Throughout the experience, I’ve learned that
acting as an older mentor can have an
extraordinary impact on the development and
social skills of my mentee. As we’ve built a strong
and trusting foundation for a friendship, I have
seen everyday social skills he’s struggled with
start to improve.
THE PROVEN BENEFITS OF
A report from Harvard University, for example,
shows that volunteering may be good for
your physical and mental health, lowering your
chances of heart disease and while also reducing
your levels of stress and depression.
I can attest to those benefits since working with
The Friendship Circle has reiterated my sense of
purpose and compassion for the world around me.
Not only is this great for one’s overall self-growth, but volunteering’s benefits also builds upon
your professional capabilities as well. As Gregory Burton, Vice President of Big Brothers Big
Sisters Independence Region mentions to Forbes, nonprofit organizations operate similarly to
corporations (except for the funding). Meaning there are similar operational departments
that give volunteers the opportunities to learn and develop their skills from event sponsorship
to board management and even marketing and financial management.
Additionally, volunteers can create transferable skills which are necessary to evolve in any
career. These skills range from the interpersonal, service, people and time management
abilities, listening. As research indicates, a hands-on approach used when volunteering
within community organizations like The Friendship Circle is the key to developing a self-
driven mentality and thoughtful leadership skills.