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Volunteers Week

Volunteering: Help Yourself by Helping Others

By Prashan Perera
Oaktree Email Team
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A Colourful Holiday

Buddha Day, also known as ‘Vesak’, is a holiday traditionally observed by Sri Lankan buddhists in the month of May.

The  day is all about giving back to the community through volunteering. However, religion is no barrier to those who love to volunteer. In Sri Lanka, people all over the country get together on Buddha Day regardless of background and culture to give back to society in anyway they can - be it providing a warm meal, ice cream or simply a roadside refreshment to those enjoying the long holiday.  


A typical Vesak day in Sri Lanka

As a teenager growing up in Sri Lanka, I took part in small scale initiatives like serving ice cream and refreshments to hundreds of people. But like many kids, as I got older I was increasingly caught up in the 9-5 corporate lifestyle.

Returning to Volunteering

In 2012, I started working for a company that made volunteering mandatory for ‘Vesak’. It was a long while since I’d volunteered. 6am on the day of Vesak I headed over to the volunteering hub resenting the sleep I would miss on a long weekend.

After six hours of serving food I took a break to catch up with my coworkers. Looking around, it started to dawn on me what an impact I had made on the people I served. Everyone had a smile on their face, and the mood was uplifting.

The event went on for three days and by the end I had never felt more relaxed. It was worth every minute of sleep I missed.

That year, Vesak helped me realise that helping people is a part of who I am. I decided that whatever path I may choose, volunteering will always be a part of me.

Helper's High

Researchers have attempted to measure the benefits that volunteers receive, including the positive feeling referred to as 'Helper’s High' - increased trust in others and enhanced social and political participation. Helper's High is caused by an overdose of ‘feel good hormones’ like serotonin, oxytocin, endorphins, and dopamine that are released when a person sees a direct positive result from their good deed.

It doesn't stop there: volunteering can help you gain new skills and knowledge, as well as boost job and career prospects. What’s more, volunteering is considered a great tool to network with new people and meet new friends, all while helping make the world be a better place. 

Insights from a Pro

Terri Cole, psychotherapist and celebrity coach, is a firm believer in volunteering. After studying the positive emotional impact of volunteerism for the giver, she decided to make it part of her practice.


Terri Cole at TedX Speech Hoboken, Source >>> YouTube

When appropriate, Terri would suggest volunteering to her clients as one tool in helping to combat depression. In as little as two hours a week, Terri has observed her clients benefit immensely.

She has even included it in her teaching program at NYU where she works as an adjunct professor at the Tisch School of the Arts. Volunteering is a mandatory assessment for students, and she has seen tremendous positive responses from this from both students and the administration.

Considering Volunteering ?

Volunteering is proven to enhance your mood, keep your happiness in check and most importantly, help you meet loads of new people pursuing the same goal.

Excited to volunteer? Check out the volunteer roles we have at Oaktree >>> Current Opportunities