There are a number of reasons why it’s good to reflect on our volunteer experiences just as there are a number of reasons why people volunteer. Below are reasons why we reflect and why it is an important part of community service.
#4) Reflection and other feedback help organizations provide the best services to the community or constituency.
Charity XYZ specializes in providing free lunch to youth in impoverished neighborhoods throughout major cities in the county during the summer. They do this by sending out volunteer delivery drivers to operate lunchtime food trucks. Charity XYZ has been providing the same service to the same areas for over a decade even after cities have been seeing rapid gentrification.
Now, of course, any charity would be prompted to make changes based on heavily monitored social trends, but who’s to say a positive change wasn’t sparked by feedback from a volunteer truck driver who’s been working in a city known for its low income Latino population when he notices that for the last five years many of the “kids” coming to his truck have been college interns and young stay‑at‑home moms living in the new upscale condos nearby?
Reflection gives us the opportunity to provide organizations with more in‑depth insight on the effectiveness of their volunteer approach.
#3) Serving others helps put your own circumstances into perspective.
It isn’t very kind to downplay anyone’s struggles, but with that said, spending a few hours working with a person who’d feel lucky just to get one meal a day might make that super cool iPhone upgrade seem a little less significant. It is widely understood that we don’t realize how fortunate we are until we witness others who are experiencing much worse. Reflection helps reiterate this idea.
Sometimes volunteering isn’t always about privilege‑checking. Sometimes our lives can be really stressful or totally uneventful and volunteering may provide a therapeutic escape. Reflection may help you realize this and prompt you to volunteer more!
#2) Reflection helps keep us humble.
Imperfection is a part of being human. Not everyone is out to help others and, likewise, not every do‑gooder is a saint. It would be easy to assume that anyone willing to devote their time and energy to a good cause has to be completely selfless, virtuous and wise. That isn’t always the case.
Many reflection surveys ask volunteers what they’ve learned or how their experience has inspired them. It is important for people to understand that serving others is a mutual learning experience. We work on ourselves when we work on others.
In addition to helping the community, volunteering and non‑for‑profit work is a great way to build skills, knowledge AND your resume. This is all great, but issues in the community don’t cease just because Jenny finally got into that Sociology Ph.D. program on the other side of the country. It’s called ‘community service’ because it’s about the community.
#1) Doing good can make you feel so good that you HAVE to share it with someone.
This reason is hard to explain if you’ve never gone out and worked in your community. Community service is just as much worth the Facebook and Instagram share as that trip to the beach or a night out with friends. Whether you were required or you signed up by choice, there’s nothing like the feeling you get from doing something good and productive.
Reflecting opens up the opportunity to connect with like‑minded individuals and teach others about the benefits of volunteering.