Helping has its benefits

Sara Williams

Giving time to others develops resumes, life skills and self-image

Son and mother pair, Gabriel and Cathy Hart, of Kent, work side by side with Kevin Payne of Stow. Gabriel is completing service hours to graduate.

Credit: DKS Editors

Volunteering does more than just fulfill community service requirements or occupy people’s time – it yields benefits to the people who donate their time and the people receiving help.

Mood elevation, broadening horizons, resum‚ building, leadership and life skills are some benefits of volunteering.

Life skills

“Cleaning a toilet in a bathroom gives you a clue about keeping it clean the next time you use it,” said Della Marie Marshall, associate director of the Center for Student Involvement.

Many students who volunteer at places such as homeless shelters learn important life skills, such as cooking, cleaning and making beds, Marshall said.

“Maybe they don’t have on nice sneakers, maybe they stink, but they need respect,” Marshall said of the people who reside there. “Call them by their first name. Hug them. It may be the only one of the day.”

Volunteering could also help students when they enter the job market.

Job market

“I’ve heard of people who got jobs from people they’ve met on a volunteer job,” Marshall said.

Volunteer experience on a resum‚ may help because it shows a potential employer a person’s ability to go beyond the classroom and find opportunities, Marshall said.

Volunteering just for the resum‚ boost is the wrong idea, wrote Jacob Roope, a senior speech pathology and audiology major, in an e-mail interview.

“I volunteer because volunteering is a ‘sure thing,'” Roope wrote. “I know that no matter what I do, these people are going to appreciate what I did for either them or their community.”

Roope said focusing on someone beyond himself helped him learn who he was and then feel better about himself.


Research shows depression is the most prevalent mental health problem, said Michael Moore, assistant director of the Psychological Clinic.

People who feel depressed are often dealing with self-concept issues. Helping others can make a person feel better, Moore said.

The term “downward social comparison” refers to a mood boost at the sight of people who aren’t as well off, Moore said.

“If I feel stressed and I’m having a bad day, these people come in, and it doesn’t seem so bad,” said Patrick Conrad, a senior at Archbishop Hoban High School.

Conrad has been a volunteer at Kent Social Services for four summers. Although it’s a community service requirement for graduation, Conrad said he enjoys it.

“Purely providing when people need it feels good,” Conrad said.

Bulging schedules posed the biggest hurdle between college students and volunteer work.

Andrew Reaven, freshman integrated life science major, said he doesn’t have time to volunteer. Reaven plans to donate his time when he gets settled and has fewer classes.

Contact social services and student life reporter Sara Williams at [email protected].