Volunteering is the practice of offering oneself or one’s services to benefit a cause or another person. But, did you know that the act of volunteering is also beneficial to you?
Volunteering can have innumerable health benefits, among which are improved physical and mental health. As a military spouse, I (along with my family) moved numerous times to areas that were new and exciting but were many miles away from family and longtime friends. Volunteering gave me the opportunity to:
Meet new people — I’ve met families from other countries through volunteer work at a community center in Korea and made better connections with neighbors down the road by helping to staff a town celebration. Relationships forged by volunteerism can boost your social network and provide you with support, advice and encouragement.
Learn new skills — I have operated a multi-line switchboard while requesting donations, filled many a care package for deployed service members, filled sandbags in preparation for a hurricane, as well as perfected the art of hammering a nail straight in while constructing shelters in Honduras. You never know what you’ll learn when you volunteer!
Have new experiences — There have even been times when I have helped with activities that involve wildlife! I have helped the NYS Department of Conservation by chasing geese to tag them, releasing pheasants to help rehabilitate their population before hunting season, and policing the sand dunes to preserve our Natural Parks for everyone to enjoy.
Above all, the greatest reward I have received from volunteering has been knowing that I did something for someone else. The overwhelming feeling of purpose and satisfaction leaves me feeling positive, which in turn benefits my overall health.
So, if you are new to the area, seeking to learn a new skill, or just wishing to pay it forward by giving of yourself, consider volunteering.
The United Way of Northern New York maintains a list of agencies who welcome volunteers. I recommend calling and inquiring if volunteers are needed. Another suggestion is to check with neighbors or community members — elderly, disabled, or single parents — who might need assistance with things such as yard work or household maintenance.
I leave you with these quotes:
- “The best way to find yourself it to lose yourself in the service of others.” -Gandhi
- “What is the essence of life? To serve others and to do good.” -Aristotle