Reading the news these days can sometimes feel like a never-ending litany of tragedies—from global warming to homelessness, from addiction to violence, it’s easy to feel pessimistic about the world we live in. Luckily there are quite a few good-hearted people out there who dedicate both their money and, often more importantly, their time, to alleviating these global problems. These people are called philanthropists, perhaps better known as volunteers. They do not expect to earn money for the work they do; rather, they donate their time, resources, and expertise because they believe in making a positive difference.
You don’t have to travel far to start changing the world around you. Volunteering can start in your own community, even as close as the local park in your neighborhood. Picking up trash in parks, on beaches, and even from city sidewalks is a great way to get started. You can also volunteer at a local hospital, homeless shelter, or retirement home. If you have a special skill, such as a talent for the arts or sports, there may be even more options for you to help out in your community.
For those seeking adventure, volunteering can also present opportunities for travel, both domestically and internationally. In the United States, you can join the Peace Corps, the world’s largest volunteer organization, which sends qualified workers to live in developing countries for a period of 2 years. Similarly, Japan sends about 1,000 volunteers abroad every year through the Japan Overseas Cooperation program. In Taiwan, the International Cooperation and Development Fund also sponsors numerous projects around the world.
Don’t feel limited to government-run programs, though—a quick Internet search can give you information about how to join volunteer projects relating to your own personal interests. The benefits of volunteering are incalculable, so why not consider getting started? Remember—your time is often the greatest gift you can give.