The benefits of volunteering

Recently I wrote a post with the title  ‘The price of volunteering”, describing my injury during a volunteering day at my new equestrian club. Now I’m writing the opposite; what you get from volunteering.

My CV is full of all kinds of voluntary work both in my professional and leisure sectors. I have spent thousands of hours working for free in NGOs, equestrian clubs, research projects. I could spend those hours doing some paid work, that’s true. Paid work is necessary to live. But unpaid work will fill the gaps in your life. You get all kinds of rewards; contacts, opportunities, expertise, capabilities, experience and things that you would normally pay for.

Last Saturday I spent one more day volunteering for that equestrian club. Doing routine jobs, with my foot still sore. I distributed breakfast to stabled horses, led Tyson and Woody (the horse that stepped on me) out of the field (with Tyson stubbornly staying behind and Woody being very willing to lead the way, so I was very lucky that I did not injure my hands with the ropes or my arms with the pressure), groomed school horses, helped out with lessons, swept the floor of the waiting room. At about two o’clock, I was grooming Kean, a beautiful, all-white horse. You know, like the ones that you see on posters and postcards. I led him to the mounting block at the entrance of the arena, waiting for the customer to mount. But when I got there, I could see no customers waiting to ride Kean. I was quite puzzled and began asking loudly who would ride this horse. Alex, one of the instructors, said quite naturally: “you are going to ride Kean”. While I was preparing him in the yard, I could not imagine that it was me who would ride -for free- this gorgeous horse! I ran to the office to get the equipment, asking the lady who owns the club whether it’s true. She said she had decided so, because I deserved it! So here we go, a free lesson on a beautiful stallion!

The lesson of this blog is not, of course, what a good person I am; it’s about the reward that you get for spending some of your free time on acts of kindness, without expecting anything in return. “Do an act of kindness, and life will return the good to you one way or another” is a line I heard on a movie. I think that this describes the benefits of volunteering.

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