Volunteering is not just about doing good for others – it actually improves your health and overall well-being, too. Why not make a regular volunteering commitment this year? (HON.org makes this an easy resolution to keep! The HON Opportunity Calendar offers up more than 300 opportunities each month.) According to this article on the Corporation of National and Community Service (CNCS) website, “those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.” Check out these 5 reasons why volunteering should be on your 2012 resolutions list:
Skill Development: Want to learn about your home and gain a better understanding about best practices to make it more energy efficient? Volunteer with Hands On Nashville’s Home Energy Savings program and get hands-on exposure to common issues while helping improve the energy efficiency of a low-income home in Nashville. You’ll really turn some heads as you mention the “.5 GPM dual-thread sink aerator” you now know how to install. Or… Interested in learning about vegetable gardening? Volunteer with HON’s Urban Gardening program. Or check out one of the many opportunities on the HON Opportunity Calendar.
Self-Confidence: The CNCS article says it best: “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.” Just the simple step of signing up for an upcoming project can seem daunting, but accepting the challenge and making that commitment will build your confidence.
Personal Health: Studies looking at the effects of volunteering (specifically Arnstein et al 2002) found improvements in both mental and physical heath. Patients who volunteered for six months showed decreased symptoms of depression. Arnstein attributed success to patients “finding a sense of purpose” and “making a connection.” Additional studies have found volunteering linked to lower mortality rates and other significant health benefits when individuals volunteered around 100 hours per year (or roughly two hours per week).
Relationship-building: Volunteering exposes you to all sorts of people with all different backgrounds – and you are allowed to dabble to find which opportunity is the best fit for you. Try sorting clothes at ThriftSmart or prepare hot delicious meals for the homeless in West Nashville. Different experiences will connect you and expose you to many different people. Check out the recent blog post written by youth volunteer Allyson Burgess about her experience volunteering at Edgehill Community Center.
Impact the Community: The most incredible reward about volunteering is the difference you make with your unique talents. Try to find ways to improve the issues you care most about and you’ll find your individual spin on how to solve problems. Regularly volunteer and you’ll see a clear picture of how you helped your fellow neighbor, family, environment, or friend. Consider lending your specialized skills to an organization that has a mission you really believe in.References:
Arnstein, P., Vidal, M., Well-Federman, C., Morgan, B., and Caudill M. (2002) “From Chronic Pain Patient to Peer: Benefits and Risks of Volunteering.” Pain Management Nurses, 3(3): 94-103. Corporation for National and Community Service, Office of Research and Policy Development. The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research, Washington, DC 2007.