When was the last time you thought about an organization that you are passionate about? When was the last time you thought about what that organization could benefit from? When was the last time you searched for volunteer opportunities? When was the last time you stepped up and volunteered?

Volunteering is an offering of time, effort and talent to a need, cause or organization without financial gain. Organizations and causes in need thrive off volunteers and often only survive because of their devoted efforts. In fact, the current estimated national value of each volunteer per hour is $28.54. While volunteers do not receive that monetary value, the real value they receive goes much further than altruism. Most of us volunteer because we want to strengthen our communities and help others less fortunate. Knowing that we made a difference leaves us feeling proud and satisfied. The truth, however, is that volunteers often receive just as many, if not more benefits than the organization itself.

Volunteering builds community and connects you with others. Not only do you make connections with the people you are helping, but you also create friendships with fellow volunteers. Volunteering is an excellent way to meet people who you otherwise would not connect with. People of all different ages, ethnicities and social groups come together to support the same overarching cause. One of the best ways to expand your friendship circle and/or strengthen existing relationships is to partake in a shared activity together. Why not choose volunteering?

Volunteering boosts self-esteem and self-confidence. Typically, volunteering forces you to get out of your comfort zone and pushes you to do things you have not done before. Naturally, this will result in a feeling of pride and identity, which in turn will increase your confidence. Volunteering can truly be a life-changing experience.

Known as the “helper’s high,” volunteering enhances mental health. Apart from helping prevent stress, depression and anxiety, volunteering also counteracts feelings of loneliness as it connects you with other individuals. According to the Campaign to End Loneliness, 45 percent of Americans admit to feeling lonely. Additionally, one in 10 people revealed that they have no close friends. Simply put, volunteering will create a social setting for you and optimize your happiness.

Volunteering provides you with a sense of purpose. By helping improve the lives of others, volunteering can help you see your own value while distracting you from negative thoughts and rumination. The overall experience is certainly eye-opening and often helps us realize that our life issues are not as bad as we thought they were.

This next benefit may just be the most enticing of them all for our Life University students. The job market continuously grows in competitiveness, and having volunteer experience can be incredibly advantageous. Volunteering on a résumé shows prospective employers that you are ambitious and willing to give your own time to help better the lives of other people. On top of that, 60 percent of managers report that volunteering experience is a valuable asset when making hiring decisions. Trust me … it’s a big deal!

If you would love to embrace the benefits of volunteering but just do not think you have the time in your busy schedule, I highly encourage you to revamp your calendar and make time. Volunteering is extremely flexible and will work around your existing commitments. Even volunteering one time every month can make a tremendous difference. Regardless of the volunteer activity you choose, it is guaranteed you will leave feeling like you have filled your cup up.