While students, professionals and universities understand the value of an educational internship, it is not always a feasible option for students. Often, time constraints and the competitive nature of summer internships can make attaining one a difficult feat. The best alternative to a summer internship is to become a volunteer.
Although volunteering does not reward students with credits toward their degree, it does empower them to create a better world for themselves and the following generations.
Benefits to the Student
Volunteering is not always initially appealing to students: one must offer their time and effort with, seemingly, no reward. Below the surface, however, volunteer work offers several benefits. Volunteers learn the value of selflessly caring for others while gaining skills and experience they might otherwise neglect to earn. Students should note that volunteer work is also an excellent resume booster. Due to the widespread understanding that students are not paid or rewarded credits for volunteering, hiring managers often consider volunteers to be well-rounded, caring individuals.
Mental Health Benefits of Volunteering
According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, studies show that volunteering has a positive effect on “social psychological factors, such as one’s sense of purpose. In turn, positive social psychological factors are correlated with lower risks of poor physical health. Volunteering may enhance a person’s social networks to buffer stress and reduce risk of disease” (Dietz, Grimm, Spring). Volunteering gives individuals a sense of life purpose. This new perceived sense of purpose promotes positive mental health.
Physical Health Benefits
Aside from feeling personally enriched, studies show that volunteers experience several health benefits when giving their time and services. In order to feel healthy on the outside, one must feel healthy inside. The article continues, revealing that studies show that those who volunteer at an earlier age in life are less likely to suffer from bad health later in life. Therefore, volunteering is a preventative measure against future ill health, paving the way to a mentally and physically healthy life in old age. This factor enables individuals to continue serving, even when headed toward the last years in their life, as poor health will likely not be an impending factor.
The Huffington Post reveals, “After analyzing 40 years of data on approximately 9 million young adults, researchers have found the so-called Millennial generation to be less environmentally conscious, community-oriented and politically engaged than previous generations were at the same age, according to a new study” (Huffington Post). Nicknamed “Generation Me” current college age students, along with other Millennials born roughly between 1982 and 2000, are less interested than previous generations to donate, care for the environment and participate in politics. Students that opt to volunteer will stand out from others in their age bracket, as this act is no longer commonplace.
Where to Volunteer in South Florida
South Florida is home to several nonprofit organizations for which students can volunteer. Depending on personal taste, an individual can offer their time and services to one of the following nonprofits:
Children are dependent beings that need support, love and basic necessities to survive. However, some children in our own area are struggling to have these needs met. Advocates for children should consider volunteering for the following South Florida organizations:
- His House Children’s Home: Florida National University (FNU) partners with His House Children’s Home. This is a faith-based social services agency seeking to fulfill the Bible’s direction to “defend the cause of the weak and the fatherless” by providing excellent care and a safe place to call home. The ministry provides residential care, foster and adoption services for abused, neglected and drug exposed children of South Florida from newborn to 17 years of age, transitioning youth and their families.
- A Safe Haven for Newborns Foundation: Advocate for the protection of children with A Safe Haven for Newborns Foundation. This foundation began in response to the growing numbers of infant abandonment in Florida. Rather than abandoning a newborn, this nonprofit allows mothers, fathers or whoever is in possession of an unharmed newborn, to leave them at a Safe Haven facility. Any Hospital, Staffed 24/7 Fire Rescue Station or Staffed 24/7 Emergency Medical Service Station is an acceptable location, and no questions will be asked.
- Feeding South Florida: Decrease the number of hungry children in the South Florida community by volunteering with Feeding South Florida. Offering several programs, such as the “After School Snack Program” and the “Backpack Program,” this nonprofit ensures that kids in this area do not go to school hungry or leave school hungry. Allowing children access to proper meals enables them to stay focused on learning throughout the day.
Promoting Good Health and Positive Environments for Families
- Camillus House: FNU is also a regular contributor to Camillus House, a non-profit organization that provides humanitarian services to the poor and homeless. Camillus House provides basic support for men, women, and children in need. These services include, but are not limited to comprehensive health care, social services, addiction recovery, job counseling, and emergency food, shelter, and clothing.
- Habitat for Humanity: Providing homeless and impoverished families with the shelter and safety they need, volunteers for this organization offer their time and skills to do so. This is a popular organization across the nation, which has hosted a location in Miami since 1989. Due to the efforts of volunteers, over 1000 families have been affected in South Florida.
- American Red Cross: Florida is known to experience disastrous hurricanes during the summer. Volunteers for the American Red Cross Red Cross perform critical services, which include helping victims of fires, floods, storms and other disasters. Trained volunteers also provide lifesaving workshops in CPR and water safety, and help members of the Armed Forces. This is an opportunity to make a difference during Florida’s most dangerous season.
Make Your Mark with Us
FNU is committed to community service. The university actively seeks opportunities to enrich the lives of others. Because we highly value volunteer work, we provide the FNU Community Scholarship for top applicants who have demonstrated commitment to community service. In January 2014, Florida National University’s Men’s Basketball team, the Conquistadors, partnered with Volunteers of America (VOA) Florida chapter to provide assistance with numerous community events. The Conquistadors’ first project entailed the development of a community playground in the City of Opa-Locka, Florida.
Florida National University
Students looking to stand out from the crowd, to benefit their community, gain leadership qualities, and to personally enrich their lives should consider volunteer opportunities this summer. Read more information about the community services we participate in. If you have an idea for a community service project, contact the Office of Student Services at 305-821-3333, extension 1040. Prospective students that are interested in FNU should apply today!
Grimm, Robert, Kimberly Spring, and Nathan Dietz. “The Health Benefits of Volunteering.” (n.d.): n. pag. The Corporation for National & Community Service. The Corporation for National & Community Service, 2007. Web. 12 June 2014.
“Millennial Generation Money-Obsessed And Less Concerned With Giving Back.” The Huffington Post. The Huffington Post, 16 Mar. 2012. Web. 12 June 2014.