Maybe You Should Volunteer
By Rose Strong
A few hours of volunteering your time a month can bring with it some great health benefits, give you a chance to gain some fresh or upgrade your skills, meet new people and expand your practical experiences that you can add to a resume. Wondering how? Maybe you should volunteer.
Volunteering brings more than just a chance to do something for those less fortunate. The need to assist can vary from agencies that help those in need to your local government with committees to make your neighborhood a better place, to knitting preemie caps for babies in a neonatal unit of a hospital or crocheting nests for the local wildlife rehab.
Volunteers come from all walks of life, and the need for volunteers is everywhere, in every community. Good solo and team-building choices for volunteering include stocking shelves at a food pantry, building houses for Habitat for Humanity, offering pro bono work in a variety of industries or planting trees on Arbor Day in your local park.
Although you’re giving to others or making the community a better place, there’s so much more to volunteering. The benefits you gain personally can often far outweigh the time you give.
Volunteering can help stave off feelings of loneliness and depression and make you feel more socially linked to friends and neighbors you meet while volunteering. However, did you know there are physical benefits that come with doing something for others?
According to a blog by Stephanie Watson at Harvard Health Publishing at the Harvard Medical School, there are many positive takeaways from volunteering.
“Evidence of volunteerism’s physical effects can be found in a recent study from Carnegie Mellon University, published this month in Psychology and Aging. Adults over age 50 who volunteered on a regular basis were less likely to develop high blood pressure than non-volunteers. High blood pressure is an important indicator of health because it contributes to heart disease, stroke, and premature death.”
She states that it can’t be proven there is direct evidence, but there is a theory that people who volunteer eat healthier and exercise more, which contributes to better health all around.
There are other reasons to volunteer such as making connections in your community and industry. Learning about others and what they do and are involved in, comes in part and parcel with being around others. The interaction helps you learn to network and extends your reach in your community or field.
Attorneys offer hours of pro bono work for folks with limited resources for legal counsel. Health care workers volunteer in United States clinics and abroad, doing surgeries that aren’t typically available through medical services in certain countries. In rural areas, many fire companies are staffed by volunteer firefighters.
The above examples show substantial time given to the much-needed and vital services. However, volunteering for some organizations can be as little as a couple of hours a month after training. There’s something out there for everyone, no matter your time constraints, your physical ability, your age or even your skill set. If you have an hour or two a month, some organization could use your help.
When I began my tenure with Furia Rubel, the company was celebrating its 10-year anniversary and was in the midst of doing 10 positive things within the community to give back. I came on board just as the team was collecting groceries for our local food pantry. We then spent an afternoon cooking a meal at the Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia for the families that stay there while their children are being treated at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. It was humbling to feed and later sit with these families and enjoy a meal with them.
Furia Rubel also does yearly roadside clean-ups in our neighborhood. Twice a year the team works with our local municipality to gather trash building up along the local roads near our office.
It was a fun way to get out of the office, meet others and do something to make our community better.
Being part of a board of directors, a local farmers’ market, church or arts committee, or a well-known organization like Kiwanis, Rotary Club or Lions Club are all places where we can work in service to others. Do you volunteer? Maybe you should.