Vol·un·teer : noun, a person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task.
Volunteering impacts lives in many positive ways. Not only are these random acts of kindness good for the individuals in need, but they also may have health benefits for the volunteers. The selfless act of volunteering has rewards much larger than monetary gain. This focus becomes less about getting and more about giving.
But the benefits of volunteering go even further. Did you know how good it was for your health? Here are 6 ways that volunteering can benefit your health, according to the Mayo Clinic:
- Volunteering decreases the risk of depression. Research has shown that volunteering leads to lower rates of depression, especially for individuals 65 and older. Volunteering increases social interaction and helps build a support system based on common interests — both of which have been shown to decrease depression.
- Volunteering gives a sense of purpose and teaches valuable skills. Volunteers, such as those at Mayo Clinic Health System, perform critical roles in assisting patients, families and staff. They serve as greeters providing patient room information and directions, as transporters of patients and patient items, and as surgery and Critical Care waiting room attendants. They make prayer shawls, blankets, sweaters and hats typically given to newborn babies and cancer patients. Services they provide include working in the hospital gift shop, performing clerical duties for staff and offering pet therapy to patients through the Paws Force team. The work that volunteers provide is essential to everyday processes, which gives volunteers a sense of purpose.
- Volunteering helps people stay physically and mentally active. Volunteer activities get you moving and thinking at the same time. One study found that volunteering among adults age 60 and over provided benefits to physical and mental health. Another study found that, in general, volunteers report better physical health than do non-volunteers. Older volunteers experience greater increases in life satisfaction and greater positive changes in their perceived health as a result of volunteering.
- Volunteering may reduce stress levels. Volunteering may enhance a person’s social networks to buffer stress and reduce risk of disease. By savoring time spent in service to others, you will feel a sense of meaning and appreciation, both given and received, which can have a stress-reducing effect.
- Volunteering may help you live longer. An analysis of data from the Longitudinal Study of Aging found that individuals who volunteer have lower mortality rates than those who do not, even when controlling for age, gender and physical health. In addition, several studies have shown that volunteers with chronic or serious illness experience declines in pain intensity and depression when serving as peer volunteers for others also suffering from chronic pain.
- Volunteering helps you meet others and develop new relationships. One of the best ways to make new friends and strengthen existing relationships is to participate in a shared activity together. Volunteering is a great way to meet new people who share common interests with you. Dedicating your time as a volunteer also helps you expand your network and practice social skills with others.
Donation and Volunteer Opportunities:
Matthew’s Hope Ministries is a faith-based homeless outreach ministry serving the needs of those who have some connection to west Orange County. They need volunteers and are always looking for donations.
Bread of Life Fellowship Bread of Life is an organization that serves as a food distribution center in the communities of Central Florida. Volunteers and donations are always welcomed.
Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Fl. is a food bank and their mission is to create hope and nourish lives through a powerful hunger relief network, while multiplying the generosity of a caring community. Monetary donations are accepted and volunteers.
Salvation Army an international movement that is apart of the universal Christian Church. The goal is to meet individual needs without discrimination. They are seeking monetary, goods and clothing donations.
Polka Dogz Pet Rescue is a registered 501C3 company and our mission is to rescue, rehabilitate, and re-home dogs while educating the community on responsible pet ownership. Monetary donations are accepted . If you are looking to donate please contact Polka Dogz to find out what items are needed.
West Orange Habitat for Humanity ReStore aims to have a world where everyone has a decent place to live. They heavily rely on the generosity of volunteers to carry out the goal of providing shelter to those in need.
Canine Companions is a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support to ensure quality partnerships.Volunteers care for breeder dogs and nurture newborn puppies for eight weeks. Canine Companions puppies spend the next 14-18 months with volunteer puppy raisers who provide basic obedience training, socialization and care.
Having a Happy Heart
Having an attitude of gratitude and giving of your time and resources is a worthwhile endeavor. Not only does it make you feel good, the impact your gift has can change lives. Visit the Donation and Volunteer Opportunities links above to get started. Also, here’s a few more resources to help you out: 12 Random Acts of Kindness, Volunteering maybe good for the body and mind , Volunteering: The Most Humbling Selfish Act of Kindness. There is always someone in need of a helping hand.
We want to hear from you!
How does volunteering make you feel? Share with us below!