Volunteering at an animal shelter doesn’t just help homeless animals. It can also bring with it an immense amount of benefits to you personally. From making new friends, learning new skills, managing stress and feeling better, you can gain all of these while making a difference.

What’s the best part about volunteering at a shelter? Helping voiceless, homeless animals to find a new family. “Our mission at Flagler Humane Society is to take in and care for homeless animals and find them homes where they can live out their lives as part of a family,” said executive director, Amy Carotenuto. Imagine the sense of accomplishment and well-being that comes from raising awareness about a cause you care about and helping those that can’t help themselves.

Volunteering gives you a chance to meet a host of like-minded people that are all working toward a common goal. You’ll receive an opportunity to really get to know people when you see them on a regular basis and be with others that share your interests. Best of all, you don’t have to hide that you are a crazy animal lover.

Want a chance to learn new skills or sharpen your existing ones? You can begin to understand animal behavior because it is not something that is at all set in stone. Every animal has its own personality and set of traits and you can learn how to best approach these issues so that the animals you work with can become adoptable.

Trade and handy-man skills are also very valuable at an animal shelter. Light bulbs and air filters always need changing, buildings need repairs and there is usually something that needs fixed. All shelters do a high volume of laundry on a daily basis so making sure everything is washed and folded as well as maintaining the machines are all immensely important.

Learning patience, staying calm in stressful situations and health benefits of being around animals are all extras you receive from volunteering. Training, bonding and helping an animal become adoptable are all lessons that can be difficult for us humans as well as the animals so you get a chance to step back from people and stay calm and focused.

Animals give us many benefits just from their presence. Your heart rate goes down by almost 20 percent just by touching a cat, but best of all it’s a great way to clear your head. We deal with so many stresses throughout our day. Animals live in the moment and think how great it would be to take a step back and live in that moment with them.

Finally, you’ll be surrounded by unconditional love and affection every time you set foot in the door. No matter how crazy your life might be at the time, you can come to an animal shelter and always see someone who is happy to see you and just wants to be petted or go on a walk. Interested in volunteering at Flagler Humane Society? Go to www.flaglerhumanesociety.org/volunteer-opportunities or call 386-445-1814.