Post by BVU staff, Roseanne Deucher, Director, The Volunteer Center
There are obvious benefits to the community when we volunteer – serving a meal to a hungry person, teaching a child how to read their first word, or walking a dog awaiting adoption in a shelter, to name a few, but how does volunteering help you as an individual? It makes you feel good, certainly, but it does much more than that! Volunteering can help us live a longer, happier life. The Corporation for National and Community Service, Office of Research and Policy Development, did the research and I wanted to share a few highlights from their study:
- Volunteer activities can strengthen the social ties that protect individuals from isolation during difficult times, while the experience of helping others leads to a sense of greater self-worth and trust. Volunteering provides a great avenue for networking and socializing for any age. However, older individuals who volunteer demonstrate greater health benefits than do younger volunteers, due in part to the fact that volunteer activities by older individuals are more likely to provide them with a purposeful social role.
- Those who engage in volunteer activities are less likely to suffer from ill health later in life and may be introduced into a positive reinforcing cycle of good health and future volunteering.
- Those that volunteer are more likely to live longer, even when controlling for other factors such as age, health, and gender.
- States with higher volunteer rates are more likely to have lower mortality rates and less incidence of heart disease. Your cardiologist will be glad to hear that in addition to diet and exercise, you are adding a regular dose of volunteering to your schedule.
Individuals must meet a “volunteering threshold” in order to receive the positive health outcomes from volunteering; that is, they need to commit a considerable amount of time, at least one or two hours a week,to volunteer activities. Find an opportunity that fits your schedule. Many nonprofits are looking for evening and weekend volunteers and some opportunities can even be done remotely from home. Consider volunteering with your friends, family or coworkers.
A volunteer shared her story with BVU
“…I was depressed because when I woke up (at 10am), I felt like I had nothing to wake for. I didn’t have to get dressed for my evening job for another 6 hours. One day my life changed when I Googled “volunteering in Cleveland” and discovered The Volunteer Center at BVU.
After volunteering for one week, I was getting up earlier, putting on business attire that I hadn’t worn in years, and heading out to a professional organization in which people counted on my help to make their lives better. It’s great to have a ‘schedule’ so I can manage my free time more effectively. I now enjoy my free time more because I have less of it.”
Volunteering is not only about helping others, it’s about personal enrichment too.”
There are plenty of websites that can help connect you to a meaningful volunteer opportunity. The Volunteer Center at BVU has been assisting individuals connect with nonprofits in Northeast Ohio for 20 years. Additional websites to assist you in finding the perfect volunteer opportunity are:
Help someone out in need and embrace a happier and healthier you!