Mahdi on the reasons for volunteering - Why do I volunteer?

by volpower
4 years ago

I would really like to make it short to not waste my and your time or boring you, but I won’t. So just read it and try to enjoy your time.

Blog post by Mahdi, Vienna

With busy lives, it can be hard to find the time to volunteer. However, the benefits of volunteering are enormous to you, your family, and your community. The right match can help you reduce stress, find friends, connect with the community, learn new skills, and even advance your career. Giving to others can also help protect your mental and physical health. Learn more about the many benefits of helping others and find tips on getting started.

Volunteering offers vital help to people in need, worthwhile causes, and the community, but the benefits can be even greater for you, the volunteer. But the question was “why do I  volunteer?”, wasn’t it?!

Some people volunteer to gain career experience, to build their resume. Develop skills or learn new ones. In addition, volunteer work enables others to make contacts with people in their chosen career.

Some people volunteer to build self-esteem, to make themselves feel better. To feel needed, to feel that they have a place in this world. To truly feel like they are making a contribution to society.

Some people volunteer for the social aspect, to climb the social ladder while helping those less fortunate.

Some people volunteer as a result of the instilled set of values they have, a set of values that compel them to act on deeply held beliefs based upon the importance of helping others.

Some people volunteer because they have felt the cruel sting that life may have afflicted them, or their loved one, with. For example, someone might volunteer for the Austrian Cancer Society because a family member died of cancer.

However, I volunteer to give back to my community. I am grateful for the help I received from others. When I was in high school I participated in the PROSA project (Projekt Schule für Alle). There, I was influenced by the academic success of my tutors. I was challenged by them to exceed all of their expectations and to broaden my horizons of thinking. Through PROSA I was able to acquire skills and opportunities that have helped me become the man that I am today. So I give back to enable refugees to have the same chances at life that I have had.

Volunteering is the ultimate payback to those who helped me on the road to success. I remember asking a counselor when I was in PROSA how I could repay him. He smiled and said “Mahdi, you can help me by helping another one.” A statement so simple, yet so deep in its meaning.

I feel that you should not volunteer for the praise or to boost your resume. You should not do it because it gives your organization a community service for some kind of quota. You should do it simply because it must be done.

Yes, because if there was not a need to volunteer, then why would we do it in the first place?! When we volunteer we are ultimately filling in the gaps that have been stretched out by apathy and the need of the people.

Some people are dissatisfied with those people that choose to volunteer for personal gain. I, on the other hand, am not. Yes, it is selfish of them to be under the guise of doing something for others when they really are doing it for themselves.

But despite the fact that they are benefitting from volunteering, so are the people they are helping. It is the classic case of symbiosis and that is a good thing. After all, we all win when we volunteer.


“From the editor: Mahdi took part in the International Volunteer Event in Zagreb (10-14 June 2019). He is part of the Vienna volunteering team, selected by the Austrian Academy of Sciences (OeAW).”

Header photo by Remi Walle on Unsplash