While being a volunteer does not benefit you financially, it benefits you in other ways that are priceless. I've honestly never learned more about the world, different walks of life, or myself than from my experiences as a volunteer.
From my service sites, I have become a better person and overall more compassionate about those whose life situations differ from mine. I have also learned that anyone can be a teacher, regardless of having a degree or not. These types of teachers are not so much book smart, but life smart. Some of the best advice I have been given have been from those who are homeless or from those who don't have much. For example, advice such as "money isn't everything", "work hard in school", and "always be kind to others, even strangers". Not to mention, sometimes those who have been the kindest to me in life are the ones who have had the least.
While it may seem to some that volunteering only aids the population being served I can wholeheartedly confirm that this is not the case. I can't express in words the indescribable joy I feel when I can help someone in any way, or make them smile, or make them laugh. Their happiness is contagious for me and I can't help but feel happy when I see what a simple gesture can do for someone's life.
I have also learned the importance of effort. A little is all it takes to make a difference. And what a difference it does make when you do it to help someone less fortunate than you. Taking time out to care about someone other than for yourself even for a day will teach you about what's truly important in life.
I have gained a greater humility from my time volunteering as well. You don't truly realize what you have taken for granted till you see firsthand how much worse it could be. From volunteering in food banks, homeless shelters, with children, in nursing homes, and other service sites I have witnessed what my life could be like. It's the best dose of reality medicine I've ever received and I recommend everyone in our generation to spend some time volunteering. You will gain a greater appreciation for what you do have and take for granted less what others wish they did have.
In addition, volunteering has been a significant component of my college education. Volunteering has helped make me a well-rounded student and overall individual. It has inspired me to use my college education to help those who are less fortunate and to use my resources for the benefit of others.
I have been fortunate enough in college to have opportunities to serve in my community and abroad to teach ESL in Costa Rica. Through volunteering, I have been able to see other parts of the world, but also to learn that as humans we are all really more alike than unlike.
Without volunteering, I would not be the same person I am today. I have learned so much about myself and the world I live in from it. I have learned to embrace and accept those from all walks of life. I have learned how to be a better person and in my opinion, that is more valuable than any money you could ever offer me.