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Just Write: Take it from me, volunteering benefits reach far, hit home

| Wednesday, April 9, 2014, 12:54 p.m.

“When you help others, you're really helping yourself.”

That line from “Avenue Q” — one of my favorite Broadway shows — is fitting this week as organizations across the country celebrate the 40th annual National Volunteer Week.

When many people think of the importance of volunteering, they — rightly so — think of doing something good for someone or some cause.

Leaders at the Corporation for National and Community Service say there are other — maybe less tangible — benefits to volunteering.

Volunteering can lead to a happier and healthier life for individuals. As someone who has averaged at least 1,000 volunteer hours each of the last seven years, I can attest to volunteering having a positive impact on my life.

Much of my volunteer time is spent with different pieces of the American Cancer Society and its signature fundraising event Relay For Life. My responsibilities with the organization offer me opportunities to amass and hone skills that not only help further the mission of the American Cancer Society, but give me the chance to use those skills in other facets of life, such as work and personal situations. I've made friends and social connections that I might not necessarily make otherwise.

My focus throughout my efforts always is on our mission to raise money and awareness for research, programs and services offered by the organization.

I wish more people would see the benefits not only to their community but to themselves. It's easy to make excuses for reasons not to volunteer — too busy with family, kids, job, life. I hear those things and more from family and friends who don't volunteer.

But volunteering should never be a burden. Even a few hours a week or month can help make a difference to someone else's life, and probably to your own.

Bobby Cherry is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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