The website recently ran a story about an Adrian, MI man well-known in his community for his volunteer efforts. The story details how Emory Schmidt found his path to volunteerism in the example set by others. Schmidt specifically cites the examples of his parents.

The story is definitely a feel-good story that puts a smile on your face. But it also leaves you understanding just how important your own volunteer efforts are. When you volunteer, you are definitely helping those in need by donating your time, talents, financial resources, and more. But your volunteerism is also rubbing off on other people. If it rubs off effectively enough, your efforts today will still be paying dividends long after you are gone.

Here are three ways your volunteerism can rub off on others:

1. Helping to Identify a Need

We live in a world dominated by short attention spans and an ever-present media that determines virtually every image we see along with most of what we hear. One of the results of our media-saturated culture is a lack of genuine awareness of what is happening right in our own communities. We may be exposed to more media influences than at any other point in human history, but those influences rarely shine the light on the biggest needs at the local level.

As a volunteer, you are helping others identify a need. For example, every person you talk to about your work with the homeless community comes to realize that homelessness exists at home. They realize it is not just a problem in big cities. Every person who learns about your efforts to reduce illiteracy comes to understand that there really are a lot of people who cannot read and write. The examples could go on and on.

2. Spreading a Passion for Others

It is not unusual for people to start volunteering out of a sense of obligation to the community, only to later discover they have developed a real passion for those people they are helping. This is fairly routine, according to the Junior  League of Salt Lake City (JLSLC). As one of the leading women’s volunteer organizations in the local area, the JLSLC regularly welcomes new volunteers on board.

As a volunteer, you are showing general concern for the people or causes you are involved with. You have a passion to make your community a better place through your work. When new volunteers see that, they may be inspired to embrace their own passions in a similar way. Some of them could go on to be as passionate about their volunteer work as you are about yours.


  • 3. Leading by Example


The most profound thing Schmidt expressed in his interview was the fact that he doesn’t recall a whole lot of organized volunteer efforts during his childhood years. He says people simply showed kindness to one another on a daily basis. In Schmidt’s view, it was really just organic volunteerism outside of organized entities.

Whether his perceptions are accurate or not, Schmidt still says he learned about volunteerism from watching his parents. He learned by their example. As a volunteer, you are providing an example that future generations can follow as well. You are showing the value of volunteerism with every project you work on.

Whether organized or not, volunteerism has been integral in making America what she is. If you are volunteering, thank you. If not, what’s stopping you? Get involved today in the knowledge that your efforts will rub off on others – perhaps for generations to come.