The old saying goes, “nothing comes for free” but here at Rainier Fruit we can find a few exceptions to the rule. A notable one is volunteering—not only do organizations benefit from a volunteer workforce contributing to their success, but volunteers themselves also benefit from the positivity generated through a selfless donation of their time. It’s a win-win situation.

Many people find that volunteering can lift their spirits when they’re feeling blue, give them a sense of purpose, and reinvigorate their passions. It’s something akin to a volunteering “high.” But that’s not where the benefits end!

Here are 9 awesome things about getting involved as a volunteer.

1. Instant gratification

You can make one person’s day. Chances are, when you’re volunteering you’ll actually make more than one person’s day (depending on where and how you’re getting involved) but the payoff can be immediate. You can see your impact, and even if in a small way, you’re making a difference!

2. Come as you are

For the majority of volunteering gigs, you don’t need special skills, money, power, or connections. Come as you are, with a heart to serve, and you can dig in right away.

3. It can lead to bigger things

As you get more involved in an organization, new opportunities can open up! Depending on the type of organization you volunteer with, these opportunities can range from increased responsibility, influence over the direction of the organization, travel, new projects, or valuable connections with community leaders.

4. You’re valued

In our day-to-day lives, it’s easy to feel unappreciated. Whether it’s your boss, your colleagues, or your kids, we all feel this way from time to time. When you volunteer, you’re giving your time and intention without asking for anything in return, and organizations that work with volunteers are infinitely grateful. Many non-profits have special programs designed to recruit and retain (and show appreciation) to volunteers, so you can bet that your contributions aren’t going unnoticed.

5. Meet people outside your normal circle

Volunteering with a community organization is one of the best ways to meet new people. Even better, volunteering can connect people from different walks of life to promote understanding and provide common ground. It’s one of the easiest ways to expand your worldview.

6. Connect with people who share common interests

Friendships forged through volunteering often last a lifetime. Why? Because they’re established over shared passions. If you care enough to get involved, chances are that you’re going to meet others that share your drive and will inspire you, encourage you, and challenge you.

7. Learn valuable skills

Many of the skills you pick up through volunteering will have other applications in your life. Volunteering is a great way to get hands-on experience in a field that interests you. Even if you already possess the skills you’re bringing to the table as a volunteer, there’s bound to be new insight that comes out of applying it in a new setting.

8. Feel more optimistic

Everybody gets the blues. Volunteering is one of the best ways to reinvigorate your sense of personal potential. Feeling like some of the big issues facing society are insurmountable? Rather than letting apathy win, getting involved and actually taking action can completely rework your perception of those big issues.

9. Contribute to a cause that matters to you

The best part about volunteering? You’re making a difference at a valuable organization, and being part of the change you want to see in the world. There’s nothing better than that.

How can you get started?

Volunteering doesn’t just happen. Rather than finding the time, you need to make the time. Make giving back to your community a priority, and you’ll reap the benefits!