One of the great gifts of life is to learn something by accident. Serendipity as it is more 'magically' defined. One of the lessons I have learned when I have been laid off,retrenched or just plain got the sack was to engage in voluntary work. The first time I got involved in voluntary work was way back in 1976 after I joined APEX Club then after a year a so there was a 20 year hiatus where i was doing only everything for me. Then in 1994 I got injured in a car accident was eventually laid off work and then spent months naval gazing as the money ran out. Fortunately I got help just in time and got involved in a soup kitchen run by the local Church. Well one thing led to another I I found myself back on my feet again. Working and feeling positive again. I may have remained stuck depressed and a completely hopeless, to both myself and to others. Instead the ability to do something even small and simple can distract you from your worries for a while. At the same time you get a spur of confidence to go on and pick up the pieces.
I volunteered working in a soup kitchen come drop in centre for the homeless, destitute, mentally ill and otherwise incapacitated to do paid employment. This too was quite an eye opener. Lots of interesting characters. I made a lot of connections there with some very good people from the Anglican Church.
Some of the most rewarding experiences can come from voluntary work.I should know I have done it quite a few times in different roles. About 12 years ago I responded to an advertisement for volunteer telephone counsellors. The training session took over six month's but along the way I learned many things about communication especially the power of listening that is listening well. I went onto to man the phones about once a month for about four years. I learnt a bit about life, myself and lots of other things too. In addition I met a few people who I would call really close friends who I can call on anytime.
This may sound a bit corny but it may lead to other things. Like discovering what you really like doing and /or finding out what you want to do for a living. Often you find your self out of paid work because you were not really into the jobs you were doing. You were just doing it for the money and of course this shows and it leads to you giving excuses for not doing the job 100% and this leads to you leaving of the decision made for you.
Some of the jobs you can get volunteering are incredible. For Instance I know people that follow the Olympics around the world every four years and volunteer at the event that way you get to see events for free with tucker thrown in. Then there is volunteering at INdycar races or other major events. Some people volunteer at conventions and get a lot out of them. If your political you can volunteer to work for your local politician or party. Then there are more serious jobs like Life-line. Then there is Volunteering Abroad.
Barry Rutherford (author) from Queensland Australia on January 20, 2011:
Just ask Susan. Great comment. It is not just about the money. Engaging in any meaningful activity has many unexpected benefits...
Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on January 20, 2011:
Volunteering is a great way to make you feel better about yourself and feel useful. For years I volunteered at my Children's School working with the reading club. The children benefited from me sitting with them and reading with them. I also worked in a program we have here called The Breakfast Club. For students that have not had time to eat before coming to school or for those not able to afford to eat. I would go in early and cook and prepare food for the children. Gave me great satisfaction and made me happy to know that they were getting nutrition.
BJBenson from USA on May 03, 2010:
My husband and I do volunteering all the time. It always makes us feel good.
Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on May 03, 2010:
It is very worthy and can be fulfilling but in the UK it can lead to a stop in benefits.
Deborah Reno from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD on May 02, 2010:
I love the comment at the beginning of your hub. Serendipity is like magic, and I love when my life flows along. Volunteering is a great way to learn about your community, and learn about yourself. And you meet some great people along the way.