To Be Challenged …

Volunteering is an opportunity to participate in fulfilling activities, which makes a difference in the lives of others.

Most of us are used to working in a specific field. Whether we are working in an office or outdoors, we’re use to applying a certain skill at your job every day. The reasons why we are able to hold onto these jobs and careers are because we are great at them, but every now and then, we need a challenge. Challenges can be very humbling, but they give us the passion to strive for excellence in everything we do.

Three keys to more abundant living: caring about others, daring for others, sharing with others.

William Arthur Ward

To Do a Civic Duty …

Volunteers feel a sense of community, which has a positive impact on their health and overall well being.

There are times in life when we all could use a helping hand from a stranger. Whether it’s opening a door or helping someone load their groceries, helping others is ingrained in us all. The problem is that if you like to directly help someone, you may not be satisfied with your day to day job. Volunteering is a way to satisfy that need to directly help and change someone’s life.

Some people want it to happen, some wish it to happen, others make it happen.

Anonymous

To Share a Skill or Passion …

Volunteering can improve self-confidence and self-esteem, which helps reduce blood pressure and improves immune functions.

Most of us learn from trial and error, experience. Others learn from what they have been taught by others. Volunteering and sharing a skill that you have with others, it may or may not have to do with the actual volunteering project, is a way for you to learn more about yourself and for others to learn about the great person that you are.

A challenge in which a successful outcome is assured isn’t a challenge at all.

Jon Krakauer

To Learn from Others …

Volunteering helps form interpersonal ties and develop social networks, which act as buffer against stress and illness.

It’s hard to claim that once we have started a career, or have started to settle down, that we have stopped learning. We are learning about each other and ourselves every day. When we volunteer, not only do we learn a new skill or trade, we also learn the skills and trade that other volunteers that we work with bring along.

Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and help them become what they are capable of being.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

To Gain Leadership Skills …

There are some people out there who are natural born leaders and there are others that strive to be leaders. While volunteering we are usually put into a situation where we are all equal and there is not one person who has an overwhelming amount of experience over another. This situation gives those who want to be leaders a chance to step up, take charge, and work on their organization leadership skills.
Volunteering is an overall great experience. It gives us the opportunity to learn about ourselves, to learn about those around us, to build new relationships, and in some cases of international volunteering we can learn about a completely different culture. Whatever our reasons for volunteering may be, someone’s quality of life is benefiting.

Volunteers live longer. Studies report that engaging in regular volunteering increases life expectancy because social interaction improves quality of life. Read more about the health benefits associated with Volunteering here or contact the “Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of Paducah/McCracken County” for more information.

Health Benefits of Volunteering

Volunteers help themselves to better health while helping others, according to a study released today by the Corporation for National and Community Service that reviews a compelling collection of recent scientific research.
The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research has found a significant connection between volunteering and good health. The report shows that volunteers have greater longevity, higher functional ability, lower rates of depression and less incidence of heart disease. The report is available by clicking here.
“Volunteering makes the heart grow stronger”, said David Eisner, CEO of the Corporation. “More than 61 million Americans volunteer to improve conditions for people in need and to unselfishly give of themselves. While the motivation is altruistic, it is gratifying to learn that their efforts are returning considerable health benefits.”
The Health Benefits of Volunteering documents major findings from more than 30 rigorous and longitudinal studies that reviewed the relationship between health and volunteering, with particular emphasis on studies that seek to determine the causal connection between the two factors. The studies, which were controlled for other factors, found that volunteering leads to improved physical and mental health.
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RSVP - Health Benefits of Volunteering
“I commend the Corporation for National and Community Service for its timely focus on health and volunteerism. These findings complement the Administration on Aging’s ongoing efforts to harness the power of prevention and wellness for all older Americans. Volunteerism is an important tool in our strategy to promote health and prevent disease”, said Josefina G. Carbonell, Assistant Secretary for Aging at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Research suggests that volunteering is particularly beneficial to the health of older adults and those serving 100 hours annually. According to the report:

A study of adults age 65 and older found that the positive effect of volunteering on physical and mental health is due to the personal sense of accomplishment an individual gains from his or her volunteer activities.

Another study found that volunteering led to lower rates of depression in individuals 65 and older.

An analysis of longitudinal data found that individuals over 70 who volunteered approximately 100 hours had less of a decline in self-reported health and functioning levels, experienced lower levels of depression, and had more longevity.

Two studies found that volunteering threshold is about 100 hours per year, or about two hours a week. Individuals who reached the threshold enjoyed significant health benefits, although there were not additional benefits beyond the 100-hour mark.

“This is good news for people who volunteer”, said Robert Grimm, Director of the Corporation’s Office of Research and Policy Development and Senior Counselor to the CEO. “This research is particularly relevant to Baby Boomers, who are receiving as well as giving when they help others. Just two hours of volunteering a week can bring meaningful benefits to a person’s body and mind.”
In 2007, the Corporation released Volunteering in America: 2007 State Trends and Rankings in Civic Life, a report that includes numerous measures on volunteering and civic engagement. The Health Benefits of Volunteering report builds on that by showing states with higher volunteer rates also have better health and that there is a significant statistical relationship between states with higher volunteer rates and lower incidents of mortality and heart disease.
“There is now a convergence of research leading to the conclusion that helping others makes people happier and healthier. So the word is out – it’s good to be good. Science increasingly says so”, said Dr. Stephen Post, a professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and co-author of the forthcoming book “Why Good Things Happen to Good People: The Exciting New Research That Proves the Link Between Doing Good and Living a Longer, Healthier, Happier Life.”
This follow-up report issued recently brings more evidence that volunteering produces significant health benefits. Those who gave social support to others had lower rates of mortality than those who did not – even when controlling for socioeconomic status, education, marital status, age, gender, and ethnicity, the report stated.
“Civic Engagement and volunteering is the new hybrid health club for the 21st century that’s free to join”, added Thomas H. Sander, executive director of the Saguaro Seminar at Harvard University. Social capital research shows it miraculously improves both your health AND the community’s through the work performed and the social ties built.”
The Corporation for National and Community Service improves lives, strengthens communities, and fosters civic engagement through service and volunteering. Each year, the Corporation provides opportunities for more than 2 million Americans of all ages and backgrounds to serve their communities and country through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps and Learn and Serve America. For more information, visit http://www.nationalservice.gov.
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