When people with disabilities engage in volunteer opportunities, the joy they experience is evident. The rewards don’t end there. People who work alongside these volunteers also gain from the experience. Read on to learn three ways people of all abilities benefit from volunteering together.

Volunteerism builds connections between people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds.

Gathering in the same space for a shared activity invites conversation. Over the course of an hour or two, volunteers often find they have common interests—movies, sports teams, music, food, travel. For example, one of Integrate for Good’s young adult volunteers with autism recently connected with a group of homeschool students by sharing his passion for Disney movies.

In volunteering, we find that people who look different on the outside may have more in common with us that we realize.

Maybe your passion is gardening. Maybe it’s baseball. Sharing your interest can build connection with other volunteers.

Diversity broadens how volunteers see themselves and others.

Many people engage in volunteer service, often with colleagues or friends. Yet, people with disabilities seldom get that opportunity. They are more likely to be recipients of services. When people of all abilities volunteer together, this imbalance starts to change. People with disabilities begin to see that they can be providers of a service to the community, not just recipients.

They feel good about helping other people. They take pride in what they do. Sometimes, they take on leadership roles. Integrate for Good volunteers talk about some of the services they provide and why they like to volunteer in this video.

When volunteers working alongside people with disabilities see them share their talents to strengthen the community, they gain a new perspective. They, too, begin to see people with disabilities as providers of services, not just recipients.

Everyone has something to learn.

Libraries and colleges are valuable learning hubs. When they are the sites of inclusive volunteer events, they open up new learning opportunities. Integrate for Good recently expanded its community volunteer events from libraries to colleges with its Opening Doors on Campus initiative.

Volunteering at these venues can introduce people with disabilities to settings that they might not experience elsewhere. They learn new skills while meeting people outside of their usual circles. They also get the chance to teach others what they’ve learned.

Students or community members might teach a skill to a volunteer with a disability. Or, they might learn from them.

Volunteering with people from different backgrounds and generations can teach us to appreciate each person’s unique abilities. When people of all abilities contribute their talents, the community grows stronger.

Integrate for Good is a 501(c)(3) with a mission is to strengthen local communities by creating opportunities for people of all abilities to contribute their time and talent through volunteerism. Learn more about us at our website, join us at one of our virtual events, or sign up to receive our email updates.

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