I remember in high school I was always told by teachers that volunteering and getting involved will help you get into your desired college. Being able to add extra experience to your college application and show you are motivated and responsible might serve as the extra push towards your acceptance letter. But, does that mean you should stop volunteering once you’re in college? Definitely not!

There are plenty of volunteer opportunities in Winona, and even more reasons why you should get involved. You might be asking yourself, “Where can I find these opportunities? What can I do? How do I get in touch with places? I have a lot on my plate already, will this suck up what’s left of my free time?” Don’t worry – Here are the 5 Ws to volunteering in Winona that will answer all of your questions and convince you that volunteering should still be part of your life:

Who?

You will obviously be the one volunteering, but who will you be benefitting and helping through this action? Well, it depends on what volunteer opportunity you pursue. Certain positions allow you to work with children such as with the Winona Public Library or Winona Family YMCA, with Project FINE you could work with ethnically diverse individuals, you could serve seniors through Elder Network or spend your time with furry friends at the Winona Area Human Society – just to name a few. The local opportunities are endless!

 

What?

What can will do while you volunteer? Volunteering should be fun, and after you find what you’re interested in, you will work with that organization and learn what they need from you. I suggest calling the place you’re inserted in volunteering at and ask what opportunities are currently available and when during the week they need volunteers. There might be an application process, so learning what you will be doing before you take the time to drive or walk to the organization and fill out an application is smart; it’s best to do your research first. Also, if you know of anyone on campus who volunteers, ask them what they do and what they like best about it.

Where?

Where can you look for volunteer opportunities? In addition to Winona State’s list of local job and volunteer organizations that includes specific places you can contact, Live Well Winona can match you up with a volunteer opportunity if you’re not sure what would be the best fit for you and what is currently available. On this website, the volunteer opportunities are separated into specific categories in which you can search, or you can email Live Well Winona (info@livewellwinona.org) or call 507-457-9825 to find the perfect match for you.

When?

With classes, homework, clubs and jobs, it may seem impossible to find a time to volunteer. But, you’d be surprised at how flexible organizations are at when you can volunteer. Most places are always in need of volunteers, and any time you can devote will appreciated. Some volunteer opportunities are at a one-time event, which might be perfect for you if you’re on a tight schedule. Weekends are always when I find myself with the most free time, and taking a few hours out of your Saturday or Sunday to volunteer is a weekend well spent!

Why?

Giving back to the community in which you reside is so important. Many people don’t have the opportunity or ability to volunteer in certain positions, and if you are able-bodied and willing to help others around you, you will help build a stronger and healthier community. In addition, there are SO many reasons why you should keep volunteering throughout your college career that will benefit you! Here’s to name a few:

  • You’ll continue to learn important skills – Volunteering can teach you leadership and teamwork, which you might not continue to develop in a classroom on campus. You have the opportunity to take lead on projects and work with a diverse group of individuals. Communication is also a skill that always can be improved upon, and volunteering requires this and will help you develop this skill as well.
  • You can add to your resumé – When you apply for a job after graduating from WSU, being a volunteer and including the skills you developed through these opportunities will set you apart from another applicant. Just as in high school, building experience is still important, and going above and beyond classwork is what it will take to stand out and land your dream job.
  • You will build important relationships – There’s no doubt you will make friends through volunteering, but you will also be able to network and build a list of references. Building a relationship with a leader of an organization might benefit you in the long run when you apply for a job and you need a reference. Being able to include an important or influential community member as a reference will, once again, set you apart from everyone else.
  • You can amp up your grad school applications – If you’re thinking about pursuing school beyond your undergrad, volunteering will allow you to add to your application and can even score you some scholarships!

Hopefully these answers to the 5 Ws will push you towards volunteering in college! There are great opportunities out there and many relationships and skills you can build that will benefit you as a growing young adult, student and graduate. Not to mention the impact on the community you will have!

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Allison Mueller

Allison is a Journalism major and Psychology minor from Oshkosh, WI graduating in 2017. She is also the blog manager for the WSU Student Blogs. Her interests include rollerblading, hanging out with friends, playing soccer and basketball, and watching Netflix.