Nine Surprising Benefits of Volunteering

Volunteering / Monday, September 29th, 2014

My wife and I visited Aspen, Colorado last week for leaf-peeping season.  While on the way, we planned to stop at the Hot Springs Pool in Glenwood Springs.  Year round, visitors to the Springs seek respite in the 3.5 million gallons of 124 degree Fahrenheit water that emanate from the Earth daily.

I was inspired while soaking in the mineral-laden waters, realizing that this experience held many parallels to volunteerism.  Here’s how:

1) Anticipation

After an early morning flight, and a ninety minute drive through the Colorado landscape, I was ready to take a plunge into the warm waters.  It had been twenty years since I last visited the hot springs.  I was eager to relax in the pool.

Volunteering can be exhilarating, too.  Anticipating moments in service, looking ahead to sharing our time and talents, builds excitement and enthusiasm for many volunteers.

2) Investment

The off-season entry fee for visiting the hot springs still exceeded thirty dollars for two.  We gladly paid it. This was not just a quick swim in the valley, but an investment in our well-being.

Volunteering also requires an investment.  We give our head, heart and hands graciously to the benefit of a cause.

3) Unique Inspiration

Children splashed in the shallow end of the pool.  Some adults swam laps.  Others sat in the bubble chairs in the hottest part of the pool.  Groups gathered to socialize while enjoying the restorative effects of the spa.  It was apparent that people came to the springs for a variety of reasons.

Volunteers also bring their own unique set of intrinsic motivators to their time in service.  These drivers compel each of us to do what we do.  Ideally, these internal needs, wants and desires are aligned with our service roles to optimize fulfillment for the volunteer.

4) Varied Origins

People of many different ages, shapes and sizes converged on the pool deck.  Many different languages were heard across the water’s surface.  We pondered how visitors from around the globe heard of, or found this remote locale in the Rockies.

Volunteers come from their own special place, too.  They each bring with them a unique set of knowledge, skills, experiences, talents and gifts.  Applying these gifts in service makes volunteerism come alive.  Leveraging their unique gifts stirs passion in the giver.

5) Community

Families and friends arrived to enjoy the pool.  Groups of bathers clustered in corners of the hot springs, sharing in conversation and laughter.  People enjoyed the experience together.

Serving with others in community elevates the volunteer experience.  Sharing best practices, learning from each other, working elbow-to-elbow, growing together are all part of a bonding experience that brings people closer.

6) Healing Power

For thousands of years, the nomadic Nuche (Ute) tribe frequented the Yumpa hot springs, believing in its power to heal.  Today, many visitors claim that common aches and pains are relieved by soaking in nature’s waters.

Some who choose to serve offer their gifts to comfort others.  Volunteers make a difference in the health and well-being of others through all cycles of life.  The act of serving has its own curative power, too.  Volunteerism can be prescriptive.  Doing good deeds can be restorative to the soul.

7) Exhausting, Yet Rejuvenating

After two hours in the hot springs, I was beyond relaxed.  I was wiped out.  As tired as I was, I also felt invigorated by my time in the warm waters.  Maybe there is some truth to the pool’s healing effects.

When done well, volunteering can be exhausting, too.  Physical fatigue is easily overcome by the warmth of having done good works.  Serving is inspiring.  Volunteerism brings rejuvenation to the spirit.

8) A Lasting Feeling

Nature’s waters at the hot springs leave a mineral residue on your skin.  This uncommon sensation begs for a post-dip shower.  Yet, it’s the minerals inherent in the water that make the swim experience different.

Offering our time and talents can also bring a lasting feeling of gratification.  Fulfillment lingers far beyond the service moment, enriching the volunteer in meaningful ways.  This residual feeling inspires future service.

9) Desire to Do It Again    

The fond memory of my time at the Glenwood Springs Hot Springs pool is crystal.  I am ready to go back!  I am so glad we made time for this experience!

When a volunteer is well supported by an organization and its leaders, they often describe a similar feeling.  Meaningful volunteerism begets volunteerism.  Being a part of something good makes people want to return.