Why Do People Do Community Service?

When you hear the phrase "community service", you probably picture people who have broken the law and are doing community service work as part of their punishment. We've become used to seeing this scenario, when famous celebrities such as Chris Brown, Paris Hilton, Snoop Dogg and even Boy George have had to put their time in after getting busted breaking the law. It's also common when people without a home choose to do service at shelters as part of a deal for being able to live there for free. But believe it or not, there's all types of people who volunteer for community service. Not everybody you see working in a soup kitchen is either a criminal or homeless resident of the shelter. There's actually many different reasons why people do community service, and for some, there's even benefits and opportunities to doing the work as well.

Court Sentences
This is definitely the most common reason for a person having to do community service. Community service, as ordered by a judge, is usually part of an overall sentence after a person has pleaded guilty or been found guilty of a crime. It's sometimes used in bargaining tactics, such as when a lawyer works out a deal with the judge or prosecutor and agrees to have their client do community service instead of something harsher, such as jail time. It's also sometimes added on to the sentence as part of a bonus punishment. For example, a person may be sentenced to 15 days in jail and have to pay a fine, and in addition to this, they will also have to perform some community service once they are released. Another common scenario is when a person is given probation, and as part of that probation, they must spend a certain amount of hours doing work in the community. With court-ordered community service, a person will usually have a certain time frame that they have to complete it by, such as 90 days, or else they will face further punishments by the court.

School and Work
When a person in High School is trying hard to get into a particular University, such as Harvard, MIT, Stanford or Yale, they will often do some community service voluntarily, so it will make them look good to the Dean of Admissions when they list it on their entrance application. The same can be said about people who are applying for particular jobs or positions, especially when they have no prior work experience. If a person is volunteering to do work for free in their neighborhood or local area, it makes them appear to be very motivated and "on the ball" and both employers and school admissions staff love to see stuff like that on applications. This is why many people join organizations that do community service abroad, such as Peace Corps. Although it's mostly volunteer work and volunteers are only paid enough to live on and get by, it's considered to be an extra-curricular activity and really shines on any resume or application.

Genuine Interest
Some people may even go out and do service in their community because they really care about people. If you go to any soup kitchen in any major city during Thanksgiving, you can easily find people feeding the homeless in these places, and most are doing it out of the goodness of their hearts. That's one particular time of the year when it's very common to see lots of people who purposely volunteer because they want to help others, but it's not the only time when this occurs. Many people don't have lots of money to donate, but they may have lots of time. This is especially true when it comes to retirees who may be living on social security and barely getting by, but who still want to make a difference in the world. For other people who do have money, many would rather work in a hands-on environment, instead of just donating money to various organizations. This way they can see the fruits of their labor and feel good about getting out there and taking action to help others.

Learn the Trade
For business-minded people out there, one of the best ways to start learning how a business works from the inside out, is to go work in places that are similar to the type of business you want to build. There's many people who will purposely volunteer at a program somewhere, so they can learn everything they can about a particular company or industry. This gives them the insight and knowledge they need to copy that company or integrate themselves into that industry. Although many shelters, groups, and organizations are non-profit, it's clear that some are still reaping profits, judging from the types of cars some of the employees and owners drive. Some community service programs involve for-profit groups as well, such as landscaping companies that do work for the city. So someone looking to start their own shelter or landscaping company, may learn the ropes by working for their competitors for free. This is probably the rarest scenario when it comes to reasons people do community service, but it still happens nonetheless.

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