Editorial

Volunteering industry: selfish and misguided

By DREW LACOUTURE

Editorial Editor

With communities and people constantly in need at any given point, some folks who live in more stable and comfortable conditions are willing to help themselves by partially helping them.  

The volunteering industry has grown to be a poison in the professional world and has become an excuse to share a picture. The problem lies in dis-in genuine motives, volunteerism, along with the employment serving creates.  

According to Kickresume, professional search site LinkedIn reported that 41 percent of respondents consider volunteer work as valuable as paid work when evaluating candidates. About 20 percent of hiring managers in the U.S. also stated they have hired a candidate based on their work experience. 

Volunteering has become a way for students and young professionals to make themselves appear as genuine people that care about others and sometimes in the laziest way possible. Donating money to an organization (that may not even need it) with friends is much easier than traveling to the organization and building/serving with that organization. 

It is a tragedy that many organizations (including those at Salisbury University) have to tell others that normally would not volunteer that joining and working with them looks good on their resume. While this is not a lie, people should volunteer because they want to help others and not just reap the benefits of serving. 

In the same way people post pictures on a regular vacation, people will practically brag about their trip to another country. According to an article from National Public Radio, more than 1.6 million volunteer tourists are spending about $2 billion each year. 

While America as a super-power in the world should help other countries in terms of poverty, education and shelter, many citizens in America are struggling as well with homelessness, food-security and schooling.  

It is not treason to volunteer in a country that is not America, it is suspicious that some people only start going to certain locations once celebrities start posting about their “work” in that area.  

What is much more practical is helping the immediate community one lives and taking trips to places in America with great need. These trips exist through Alternative Spring Break among other programs. 

In 2012, Nigerian-American novelist Teju Cole created the term “White savior industrial complex.”

“Powerful people simplify complex problems in other countries to construct a space for themselves to feel good about making a difference,” Cole said.  

Lastly we have created a system where serving others is a way to make a living. From international organizations like The United Way and the Red Cross to local organizations like Diakonia and Halo, people are paid to help others.  

While it would be ideal to work towards a world where volunteerism in any aspect is not needed, the fact of the matter is that thousands of people just in America need people to stay in need to keep the organization’s lights on. This is not a detriment to anyone, but it does particularly feed into the problem. 

Now it has been proven that volunteering has a positive effect on mental health. The London School of Economics examined the relationship between volunteering and measures of happiness in a large group of American adults and found the more people volunteered the odds of being “very happy” rose seven percent among those who volunteer monthly and 12 percent for people who volunteer every two to four weeks. 

Volunteerism is of course needed locally and in major world tragedies, serving is becoming an oversaturated and self-glorifying art-form where it is all about where somebody went and who they did it with instead of the actual work they do.

Image from the Australian.

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