The joy of volunteering – and why you should consider doing so for SMART

Over the 23+ years I enjoyed working for SMART Recovery, in my mind, one of the most obvious blessings to SMART Recovery was the amazing collection of volunteers we have working around the world to bring the 4-Point Program® and tools to those seeking help with addictions.  Every day I was in communication with our online and on-the-ground volunteers – well over 1,500 of them — I loved our volunteers!

Back up 23 years, and prior to becoming engrossed with SMART and the immense amount of work required as the Executive Director, I had enjoyed providing numerous volunteer hours to a local inner-city refugee home, and additional hours to an educational program for inner-city children in grades 1-3 at the non-profit Rockefeller Park Greenhouse near downtown Cleveland.

After joining SMART and continuing to recognize the importance of volunteering, I always managed to maintain minimal volunteer hours with Joseph House, the refugee home. (I knew that the greatest need of the organization to ensure that we could continue to welcome, house, and care for our refugees was bookkeeping — not my favorite thing — but I performed that task for many years.) I have continued my volunteer activity with Joseph House, and have since expanded it, bringing me extra joy!

Since leaving SMART, I’ve had ample time to reflect on the amazing collection of volunteers within SMART —   as well as the obvious need for more volunteers on every level.

SMART needs online helpers – message board volunteers, online facilitators, online meeting helpers, online chat-room volunteers.  The 24-7 outreach always needs multiple hands on deck.  If you’re active with online activities, consider volunteering by clicking here.

SMART always needs community meeting facilitators, as well as more meetings in professional facility settings. To learn more about training to become a community SMART facilitator, click here.  SMART also needs volunteer board members.  At present, some needs include grant writing, major gift solicitation, paid media marketing/communications, digital media/social media, public affairs/government relations and information technology.  To learn about applying to be a board member, visit here.

I was just thinking to myself that there is no doubt ample research related to the benefits of volunteering, so I used good old Google.  You can search yourself to discover additional benefits, but I’m fond of this link identifying six health benefits related to volunteering:  The Six Health Benefits of Volunteering.  Hmm — potentially experience less depression, learn valuable new skills, increase physical and mental activity, live longer, develop new relationships?  I recommend you dive in.  I’m confident you’ll find that the benefits outweigh the costs of doing so!

Shari Allwood is a former Executive Director of SMART Recovery after serving for 23+ years.

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