We are not inherently selfish beings. In fact, our brains are hard-wired for generosity. Science has proven the philosophers and faith-leaders correct: Giving, volunteering and sharing make us happy, more so than acquiring wealth or shoving cake in your mouth.
Some call it the “paradox of generosity”, but anyone who’s volunteered or donated to a cause they care about can attest that there’s nothing contradictory about it at all. Being able to share what you have means you have enough, and that’s a great position to be in.
Giving can also help you feel a sense of control. Maybe you can’t solve all the world’s problems right now, but you can help solve smaller problems affecting people near you right now. Knowing that being generous can cheer you up and give you a sense of control, consider these easy pick-me-up activities that can help our community as you help yourself.
Volunteer with kids
The most gratifying volunteer activities are those where you can interact with the people you’re helping. Volunteering with kids can be complicated because most organizations can’t have you interacting with kids without your going through a background check, training or other rigmarole. Every volunteer opportunity is different.
The biggest need for seniors is time and attention. Isolation and inactivity can diminish our quality of life, so anytime you can work with seniors to get them talking and moving, you’re helping enrich their lives tremendously. Plus they’re generally fun, interesting people with as lots to share!
Long before Uber, there was DriveASenior, an network of volunteers who gives rides to seniors to appointments, social outings, shopping and errands, and more. You can also volunteer to help with small chores like changing light bulbs or mowing the grass. Check out these three sites for more opportunities to work with our senior community.
The fresh air and a little light sweat are good for the soul. But before you launch another round of disc golf, consider putting that energy to work for the greater good. Keep Austin Beautiful is the home of park clean-ups, but you might also try volunteering with Green Corn Project to install new organic gardens across the community. Or consider taking a different tack, being outdoors and helping kids. The Ghisallo Cycling Initiative needs help at its clinics teaching kids how to ride safely.
For other less obvious opportunities, check out Service Dogs Inc, which is looking for help at UT football games, an interesting opportunity to serve a good cause, be around dogs and be part of the Longhorn crowd. Or, if you’re ready to take your volunteering to the next level, consider being the volunteer founding president of Canine Companions, an organization that provides service dogs to people with disabilities. Maybe the world is telling you it’s time for a serious commitment to positive action…?
GivingCity is Austin's only cause-focused media company helping people and organizations understand our community and inspiring them to make it better. Online, in print, broadcast and live. Learn more.