When I was a kid my Mom would always say, “A tough day of volunteering is still a good day.” As an 8-year-old who was trying to juggle ten cans of food from the car to the donation bin, I did not understand what this phrase meant.

But to my dismay, my Mom’s phrase was repeated to me during activities that I thought were ordinary — going to the Goodwill or making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at a homeless shelter. Little did I know that this was a day of volunteering, which to me always felt like a good day.

Maybe as a child I was unaware of the advantages of volunteering. But now that I am 20 years old and majoring in community non-profit leadership, I understand there is a plethora of ways in which volunteering positively benefits a person’s life.

In fact, according to Harvard Medical School, volunteering is positively correlated to one’s health. It is proven that 200 hours of volunteering per year leads to lower blood pressure. As for students specifically, a recent study found that students who participate in acts of service within their community were seen to have a higher grade point average than those who did not. So for all you students out there who are looking to raise your grades, volunteering might be the answer.

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There are many ways to get involved within the Madison community. First, several clubs on campus are centered around volunteering and giving back to those in need. For example, Best Buddies is an organization where students are able to serve as mentors to young adults with disabilities. Through creating projects, planning activities and interacting with their buddies, this club is a way to help young adults who may not have the same resources otherwise.

Nonprofit organizations near campus encourage University of Wisconsin students to get involved as well. For instance, Operation Welcome Home is a local non-profit organization that strives to end poverty within the community. As a past volunteer at OWH, I have worked closely to gather resources to give to the homeless and assist administration with daily projects. Whether it may be to support the homeless or help those with disabilities, there are many issues that need you.

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As I continue to study non-profit work and devote my career to this area of study, I have truly begun to see the benefits it has had on my own life. Having had these meaningful experiences, I now have a much clearer understanding of my Mom’s motto. It definitely was a good lesson to learn so early — volunteering can help any day be a good day.

Julia Broudy ([email protected]) is a sophomore studying community non-profit leadership.