Volunteer Work

I make the case for doing volunteer work instead of attending a Clubhouse.

A study indicates upwards of 42 percent of employers view volunteer work favorably when it’s listed on a resume. Having a volunteer position as part of your history can help you when you have an employment gap because you have a diagnosis.

You can go on Idealist to find paid or unpaid jobs in the non-profit sector linked to a cause you’re passionate about.

People I’ve created resumes for who have gotten professional positions have listed this kind of community service on their resumes. Acting as a leader in your community does matter.

I was only 26 when I started my first volunteer job in the ComPeer non-profit: I was a peer to a senior citizen woman named Lila who lived in a residence. We’d listen to Yankee games on her radio. I’d drive her to an ice cream shoppe in the summer. I drove her to a picnic and drove her home from the picnic.

I was 31 when I volunteered in the Alzheimer’s Association Forget-Me-Not Thrift Shop: I sorted incoming clothes and priced them, arranged them on the racks, and rang up the sales.

No: I’m not kidding when I recommend that a person diagnosed with a mental illness does volunteer work if they can’t work at paid employment at this moment in time or when they can’t work at a paid job at all.

An employer does not want to hear that you have a gap in employment or haven’t worked at all because you have a mental illness. That’s reality.

And besides, each of us should really be contributing our talents to others in society and using our talents for the greater good. A person might be in mental or emotional pain. Doing volunteer work can help us transmute this pain and feel better about ourselves.

I have interacted with too many individuals with mental illnesses who think the world revolves solely around getting their needs met and on what other people can do for them. It’s often that they continually judge and attack other peers.

This has to stop: the judging, the hurtful comments, it all has to stop. The way to have a better life is to do something that also helps other people have a better life. Sitting around judging others instead of trying to improve your own life might make some people feel better yet it’s not the right thing to do.

Volunteer work: that’s the ticket. Doing volunteer work in studies has proven health benefits. And people who do volunteer work for altruistic reasons live longer too and have better mental and physical health.

What’s not to like about volunteer work? I recommend you Just Do It.

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Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She owns a resume writing and career help business. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and a fitness buff.

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