5 Reasons Why Volunteerism Should Be Your New Year’s Resolution

Starry, Starry Night. Photograph by Erin Cuddigan.

1. You make cool and unique things happen

Captain Jane lines up her guest lighter’s torch for the WaterFire lighting ceremony. Photograph by Tom Lincoln.

Captain Jane lines up her guest lighter’s torch for the WaterFire lighting ceremony. Photograph by Tom Lincoln.

Volunteerism is an extremely unique mode of work because you get to choose exactly what it is you want to make happen. When you choose to volunteer somewhere, you get to pick exactly where based on what you’d like to make happen. WaterFire volunteers choose to get involved with something that transforms the city of Providence one night at a time.

“It’s magic. We make magic. And how often do you get to do that in your life? And we get to do it a bunch of times a year, with really great people.” – Jane Carlson, WaterFire Volunteer

2. You feel more connected

Captain Mark Karras piloting the WaterFire Access Boat. Photograph by Jen Bonin.

As an avid volunteer myself, I can vouch for this one. I volunteer to co-run a number of H.P. Lovecraft-related events in Providence, and it’s put me much more in tune with the city’s history and geography. I also volunteered to help repair the Riverwalk with Providence’s Downtown Neighborhood Association, and every time I walk or jog along that stretch of the river I take great pride in knowing that those posts were painted by the group I was a part of.

WaterFire volunteers feel this, too, and I’ve seen it for myself. A number of volunteers have become significantly more engaged with various Providence scenes – art, politics, and social leadership opportunities – since becoming frequent WaterFire volunteers. What we do is so tightly knit into the city that this sort of connection is almost inevitable.

“I’ve fallen in love with this city. I see tens of thousands of people go to WaterFire, and I see that it pulls people together. I can only hope that what brings them there is what brings me there: WaterFire lets us be a part of something that’s very special.” – Mark Karas, WaterFire Volunteer

3. Your help has many ripples

Photo by Jennifer Bedford

Beatriz Lincoln carries a torch during a WaterFire Lighting Ceremony. Photo by Jennifer Bedford.

Volunteerism is never as narrow or shallow as it might momentarily seem. When a volunteer helps put on a WaterFire event, they’re also supporting local businesses, the city’s tourism industry, connecting others with the city, highlighting the river’s ecology, and much more. Similarly, volunteering just about anywhere will have many more positive effects than you may think.

Volunteerism itself is also contagious. A huge number of WaterFire volunteers started because someone they know was a volunteer and that act alone was convincing enough. By becoming a volunteer, you inspire others to do the same.

Lastly, do you know how much a single hour of volunteer work is currently worth in total? A whopping $23.48 – every single hour. Volunteers support their hosting organization much, much more than they know.

“I think we’re not just ambassadors for WaterFire, but we’re ambassadors for Providence. We’re promoting the City. And what a cool city this is to live in.” – Beatriz Lincoln, WaterFire Volunteer

4. You meet cool people

WaterFire Guest Boat Captains on the Dock, Steven is second from the right. Photograph by Luis Andrade.

It’s amazing how many friends someone can make simply by doing something they enjoy. Volunteers meet so many counterparts during their shifts that friendships are bound to happen. When you spend a lot of time working side-by-side with people who care about the same things you do, you meet a lot of people you’ll find truly interesting and inspiring.

“There is a myriad of positions required to complete a single WaterFire. I would recommend every volunteer try all the areas to see where they feel most comfortable while meeting new people and forging relationships along the way.” – Steven Sondler, WaterFire Volunteer

5. You (seriously) make the world a better place

A little help goes a long way - Photo by Jeff Meunier

A little help goes a long way, Jerry (in black) makes dreams happen. Photo by Jeff Meunier

Where would the world be without volunteers? All the causes and good things we believe in takes work to make them a success – and each of us are the ones who ought to step up and make those good things happen. This year, make volunteerism a major resolution. Find something locally that speaks to you and reach out to them. Or, start something totally new.

Keep this in mind: WaterFire lightings are enormously complicated events that no single person could ever accomplish on their own. But as a big family of caring and passionate people, we’re all able to make serious magic happen. All it takes is getting involved.

“WaterFire makes me feel like I’m a part of something bigger and greater than myself and I love being able to be a part of it and bring joy, happiness and excitement to the city and state.” – Jerry Suggs, WaterFire Volunteer



2 thoughts on “5 Reasons Why Volunteerism Should Be Your New Year’s Resolution”

  1. No one should ever go through life without volunteering at least once. It is a truly uplifting experience to know that you are helping those less fortunate than yourself without needing or expecting anything in return

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