COLUMN: Summer is for volunteering

As citizens of this world, we have a responsibility to help others and create positive value through our good deeds.

With clear skies and sunshine during recent weeks, it has been the perfect weather for students on summer break to go to the beach, enjoy a family barbecue, or simply grab a book and relax.

However, equally important during the summer is to get involved and give back to the community.

While it is important to keep your study skills sharp for the upcoming semester, the summer also provides a great opportunity to get involved in an extracurricular activity or volunteer with an organization.

Volunteer organizations are often more than willing to accept high school and post-secondary students. The summer also provides an excellent opportunity to be exposed to different volunteer organizations and find something you could commit to for a longer period of time in the future.

Volunteering is especially great for younger students, as it allows them to find out early on which type of activity they would like to be involved with during their higher education years.

Recent statistics from the City of Surrey prove Surrey residents are definitely volunteering their time.  The percentage of people who volunteer increased dramatically – by 234 per cent – from 2009 to 2012.

It is important that younger residents also discover the joys of giving back. In fact, it would be a great opportunity for parents of younger students, even in elementary school, to organize a monthly or weekly family volunteer day which would not only allow parents to spend quality time with their kids, but also ingrain in their children a sense of community involvement from a young age.

I cannot underestimate the importance community involvement has played in my own life.  As a student who has been involved in both school and community initiatives, I have realized the benefits of volunteering are critical in not only developing one’s personality, but also one’s outlook towards humanity and the power of positive change in this world.

The younger that one can get involved in volunteerism, the better. As citizens of this world, we have a responsibility to help others and create positive value through our good deeds. It is also important for young student volunteers to understand the great importance of the volunteer work that they do. Don’t underestimate the power of your positive contributions.

The benefits of volunteering cannot be understated as they lead to a win-win for everyone involved.  Volunteering can lead to a balanced lifestyle, better mental health, and the development of social skills.

You might also be surprised to know that volunteering can lead to academic success. According to a study conducted by researchers Alberto Davila and Marie Mora, “students who performed voluntary community service were 19 percentage points more likely to graduate from college than those that did not.” According to their study, volunteering also led to better scores on “reading, math, science, and history scores.”

If you haven’t already discovered the benefits of volunteering, the remaining weeks of summer are an excellent time to start your involvement and begin a lifelong journey of giving back and realizing the joys of community involvement.

To find a volunteer position, there are many online resources, such as GoVolunteer.ca or the City of Surrey’s Volunteer webpage (https://www.surrey.ca/culture-recreation/6028.aspx).

You can also directly contact a non-profit or community organization to find out if they are accepting any volunteers.

While the summer is an excellent time to just watch TV, relax and enjoy the outdoors, it is also a great opportunity to help others in the community.  As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “everyone can be great because everyone can serve.”

Japreet Lehal is a student at Simon Fraser University Surrey. He writes regularly for The Leader.

Do you volunteer? Vote on this week’s online poll: surreyleader.com

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