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Volunteering can really suck.

Volunteering can really suck.

It is currently 12:44 A.M ( I sleep at 9, usually) and I’m coming back from helping out at the Richmond Hill Lawn Tennis Association. Every so often you can find kids at the local court looking to play in the upcoming tournament. They often need help with their serve or backhand. They put in hundreds of hours of practicing, counting and relying on the mentors who drop in and give their time to help out. That’s it, no volunteer hours for school, no recognition and a lot of work. I’m ready to flop on my bed and go to sleep.

I keep on asking myself, why do I do this? Pushing back important work and school projects to volunteer in the community and help out. Sometimes my friends ask me whether all this volunteering is worth the effect that it has on school work, but I truly believe that with the right mindset, the impact you create from volunteering is worth magnitudes more than an insignificant number on your report card.

Change your fixed mindset of what volunteering is and what it should be. It’s more than just putting in hours at a summer camp or library. Want to travel the world? Learn new skills? Here are five simple steps to reach your goals through volunteering that will redefine why you should go out and volunteer.

These five simple steps to grow your goals, will redefine why you should go out and volunteer.


1. Meet new people

Go out to events to meet new people and discover their talents. The professional term for this is “networking” but really it’s just about being social. One time at a social networking event downtown in Bitmaker HQ, I met Craig Hunter, he’s the CEO of Bitmaker Labs and he’s part of the first 50 hired at Uber. It’s amazing what this guy can do, he’s worked with Jeff Bezos before and raised 120 million in capital for his company. You never know who that person beside you giving water to runners is from or does? Ask, get to know them!


Photo: Christian Battaglia, https://unsplash.com/search/people?photo=BckPaTv1RZ8

2. Create impacting change

I hate the 40 hours rule. Why? Most teens only finish 40 volunteer hours to meet the ministry of education standard, but they don’t reflect on their accomplishments and realize the change they have made in the community.

For every tree planted a thousand animals find a home, every dollar raised brings you that much closer to curing cancer. Volunteering isn’t just about giving back to the community, it’s a way to express yourself. You create change that otherwise wouldn’t have happened, you making that dent in the universe is making enormous changes to your life as well as others years down the road. In fact, many awesome companies recognize this importance like Deloitte, Salesforce, and U.S. Bank who will pay for their employees to volunteer in the community.

Don’t volunteer to put a few words and numbers on your resume. You’re doing it wrong. Volunteering is about getting experience, getting involved, and creating change. Don’t get me wrong, volunteering looks great on a resume, but if you do the same task for 30+ hours then what are you really getting out of it? You should always meet new people and learn from new experiences.


3. Acquire new skills

I made the mistake freshman year of volunteering at my elementary school, not the volunteering part, but the fact that I spent too long doing the same thing. The first 10 hours were a valuable asset, but after that it became the same routine, cleaning up after annoying children, teaching kids the clarinet who had no motivation to learn. I drenched myself in this toxic environment where I didn’t obtain many new skills. That’s why when you volunteer you should mix up the task and environment that you work in. I follow my own 30-hour rule; never spend more than 30 hours doing something where you don’t gain anything in return. Be bold and contribute to things you never knew about like, gardening, dancing, cooking, etc.

"Find your passion, now go help people with it” - Keshav Chawla

(Yes, I know that I quoted myself)


4. Relax.

School sucks. After a stressful week or issues with life, it can be nice just to escape the walls of our defined world. Volunteering can be a way to do that. Volunteering is a way to relax and help others and the community. You get to think about the times where you need help and when you can help. It can be fun going out with friends and becoming a run marshal. Sometimes you just need a break from work to unwind, sit back, and relax!


5. Feel accomplished

The most rewarding part of climbing a mountain is the view from the top. Now I haven’t climbed any physical mountains, but I believe that’s how you should think of hardships in life and volunteering. At the end of the day, it’s empowering when you look back and see the change you created and the people you helped out.

Everyone need to have that feeling of accomplishment. When you feed off this kind of feeling, it can push you to do more. So take a moment, and reflect on the lives you impacted so far this year and see how many more smiles you can create by helping out in the community. Go climb a mountain!


I make it my passion project to help aspiring changemakers. If you have an organization you're passionate about or want to volunteer for e-mail me (keshav.chawla@project5k.ca) or better yet connect with me on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/keshav-chawla), I can try my best to get you volunteers and help you see through your goals. I will be at the Toronto West Kidney Walk and RBC Race for the Kids impacting change and would love to see you there! Think about all the changes in your life you can make with a single empowering event. Don't sit around at home, sign up here and now: https://project5k.ca/events.