Volunteering Can Improve Your Health 

  Leo Burnett Chicago employees paint a structure outside of the Off the Street Club in the West Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago.

Leo Burnett Chicago employees paint a structure outside of the Off the Street Club in the West Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago.

National Volunteer Week, which was established in 1974 to celebrate volunteers and the work they’ve accomplished, kicked off yesterday. It’s a time to pause and highlight the work that volunteers have done to build stronger, more resilient communities. But, there’s more to volunteering than giving back to others.

Nearly all volunteers say that they feel less stressed and better about themselves after giving their time. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service

  • Volunteering gives individuals a personal sense of accomplishment, especially for those who are 65+. 
     
  • Volunteering also gives individuals a sense of purpose, especially if they have undergone a life change like moving to a new city, losing a job, or having children leave for college.

Volunteering also helps us create connections to our communities, which can be key to ending the loneliness epidemic that has impacted individuals around the world.

Building community connection is one of the main reasons that we started Give2Get.  

In a generation where connectivity is so important, we are making ourselves more isolated. We interact with people through social media, but burying our noses in our phones keeps us from meeting those around us.

It’s not that we’ve lost the skills needed to connect, we just choose not to use them — and it’s greatly effecting our wellbeing. 

Vivek Murthy, a former U.S. surgeon general, has written that loneliness and social isolation are “associated with a reduction in life span similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day and even greater than that associated with obesity”. 

Volunteering is one way to combat the problem because you are CHOOSING to get involved with an organization that helps others. You don’t need a friend, partner, or family member to volunteer with you. In fact, you’ll probably meet some interesting people if you volunteer by yourself. 

After all, you’ll be surrounded by others who are passionate about the same causes that motivate you. Their reasons to get involved may be the same as yours — or incredibly different — but it’s a good jumping off point when you first meet. 

Throughout your volunteer commitment you’ll have a shared experience like studying during the training classes you take to prepare you to work on a hotline or painting a gym at a local Boys & Girls’ Club; and, if you’re lucky, perhaps you’ll even meet those that you’re helping.

You’ll also be able to think back on your volunteer experience weeks later. Whether you feel pride in your work whenever you drive past the club or hear someone become more calm after their initial, stressful moments on a crisis line. 

To find volunteer events in your area, consider checking out NeighborhoodOfGood.com. If you and your colleagues would like to volunteer as a group, Give2Get can help by setting up a Day of Service. Contact us for more information!