What a warm start to summer, we are having! I hope you are finding ways to enjoy the moment and making memories with your family and friends. The last couple of weeks I’ve attended and participated in events that have involved many volunteers. Living in a small community allows many opportunities to participate in activities you and your family may enjoy.

According to Harvard Health Publications, there are four major benefits of giving your time and talents by volunteering.

1. Volunteering connects you to others. It allows you to connect to your community and make it a better place. You can make a real difference and you can gain new friends, expand your network and boost your social skills for yourself and your children. We know that children watch everything we do and volunteering shows how to give back to the community and interact with others who have common interest as you.

2. Volunteering has been shown to be good for your mind and body. It’s good for our mental and physical health by decreasing our stress and anxiety, and improving our mood. When I give help to others, I feel happier and increase my self-confidence. Volunteering can help take your mind off your own worries and give you a sense of purpose. Older volunteers tend to walk more, cope with everyday tasks easier, and have better thinking skills, among other benefits.

3. Volunteering can advance your career by learning new job skills or building upon the skills you already have. It’s a great way to practice skills for the workplace such as teamwork, communication, problem solving, project planning, task management and organization. If you are the one sharing these skills with others, what a great way to mentor others to grow in professional development. Words of encouragement and that passion and positivity are the only requirements for being a good volunteer. Add having an open mind and willingness, and you have a great combination to offer to others.

4. Volunteering brings fun and fulfillment to your life by exploring your interests and passions. Finding something meaningful and interacting can be a relaxing opportunity for you to escape from the day-to-day routine. When I find a good fit for me, it provides creativity, motivation and vision that can carry over into other areas of my life.

While there are many opportunities, make sure that it’s a good fit for your goals, by asking yourself some of these questions:

Do you want to work with children or adults or animals?

Do you prefer to work with a team or group or more independently, maybe from home?

Are you a leader or a contributor; do you want to take charge or support behind the scenes?

Do you have the time to share on a weekly or monthly basis? How much time do you want to share? Learning the expectations is a key to success.

Try to check out several different opportunities before making a commitment, to learn about your options. Talk with friends and neighbors to learn about what your options are.

Look around in our great community to see what might be a good fit for you and your family? Giving back is a wonderful way to make a beautiful future.

Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.