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National Volunteer Month

Every year, a handful of my dear friends sleep outside to raise money and awareness for Covenant House, and every year I write them a check. I am a huge fan of this organization, which supports homeless youths, and an even bigger fan of my friends who volunteer. But I know myself. Sleeping outside is out of my comfort zone. And so I write the check.

As we celebrate National Volunteer Month, it can sometimes feel overwhelming to determine how to lend your time and talent. The rewards of volunteerism are profound. But where do you start? You can seek out a cause that holds a place in your heart, like animal rescue or feeding the hungry. You could find a purpose that has impacted your world, like cancer. Or you could ask a friend. People support people. As much as we all want to be a part of worthy causes, we tend to support worthy causes that are supported by someone we know.

I started my career in the nonprofit world, and quickly realized I could learn a deeper skillset at a PR firm, so I jumped ship and committed to always give back. When I started my own firm, I supported nonprofits via pro-bono work, sitting on boards or donating time on committees. I know the value my PR expertise brings to these organizations. Still, there's something truly game-changing about rolling up your sleeves and being a part of something bigger than yourself.

That's the spirit of true volunteerism.

PR pushes the needle, and we love promoting the good work of Helping Mamas, Georgia's only baby supply bank. In fact, the weekly "Moms Helping Moms" Instagram Live is a highlight of our Thursdays. But committing to a volunteer slot in their warehouse gave my team and me the true optics of the overwhelming need Helping Mamas fills in providing baby supplies to one-in-three families who experience diaper insecurity.

Applying my expertise and connections by, for example, organizing "Zero Waste Cooking Classes" for Second Helpings Atlanta is also extremely rewarding. Being able to show what you can do with ingredients that might otherwise end up in a landfill speaks to our love of food and sustainability. But following the incredible volunteer, Ned Cone, on his Second Helpings Atlanta route to pick up fresh, surplus food from Whole Foods and Trader Joe's and deliver it to the Atlanta Baptist Mission made me realize not just the incredible service the organization provides in driving out hunger, but also how impactful the work is for its volunteers.

Statistically, women volunteer six percent more than men. People who volunteer 100 or more hours a year are some of the healthiest in the U.S. Eighty-five percent of people who volunteer also donate to the organizations they volunteer for. Thirty-five percent of volunteers report they do so to socialize. Volunteerism is also a huge motivator for millennials. And that's not lost on hiring managers, 60 percent of whom see the act of volunteerism as a valuable asset when making recruitment decisions. Another motivator for volunteerism is to learn a new skill. In fact, whenever anyone asks how they can get experience in PR, I tell them to volunteer in the PR or marketing department of a charity.

Volunteering for a worthy cause is something you may have done your whole life or something you came into as an adult. However you come to volunteering, I hope you get as much out of it as I do.

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