Volunteering Opens New Paths

Why should young adults take a year and volunteer their time and energy? Well, first, I would say this isn’t a usual volunteering scenario. This is more of an apprenticeship; as one gives they will receive new experiences and skills for cultivating community from those who work day in and day out in specific communities. However, why? Why not get a job? Why not be in school? Of course, all of those things are important but engaging in an apprenticeship of community building for a year, why?

Changing Lives

To say an apprenticeship changes lives sounds a little dramatic but I’ve seen first hand how a year of giving and receiving created an experience that is hard to get otherwise. In 2005 in Nashville, Tennessee, I first came into contact with young adult volunteers who had committed a year to working and being in a community that was out of their comfort zone. I knew several of these volunteers through a church I attended where they worshipped for a year.

The start of a new direction

They would talk about the places they worked, the people they had met, and the changes they experienced in themselves, as well as others. Then at the end of the year they often found themselves sensing a new direction in their lives. A couple of them went to seminary, while others continued working at the non-profit organization for years after, some went on to graduate school and others chose to become entrepreneurs.

No matter what field was chosen whether religious, non-profit, or for profit they had now experienced a new way of living and being in the world that contributed to where they were and who they met. What had been learned in that year was transferable to numerous situations because they had experienced what it meant to hear others, work through difficult situations, build up relationships, and try to make the world a little better place.

So how would you answer the why?

Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

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