The Benefits of Volunteering

At Men’s Liberty, we’re really looking forward to the Wheelchair Games!  They’ll be right here in Tampa Bay this summer on July 13-18th.  Everyone on our team is excited about all the different venues and sports that will be occurring, and many of them are volunteering their time to help out. That made me start thinking about the benefits of volunteering.

Many organizations  have a seemingly endless stream of volunteers.  Now here’s some great news:  According to statistics, volunteerism is on the rise.

From 2010 to 2011, the number of volunteers reached its’ highest level in five years.  It increased to an all-time high of 64.3 million Americans volunteering through organizations!  This equates to 8 billion hours with an estimated economic value of $171 billion dollars’ worth.  That’s phenomenal!

Both civic and school volunteerism is up.  Just look at the response to Hurricane Sandy!  Many individuals came from all over the country in response to a natural disaster.  And they are still there with an increased commitment to solve the problems of that area, as well as connect with the residents.

Ask most anyone that volunteers – they’ll tell you that it creates a deep sense of satisfaction!  Think about it…  When you help someone, how does it make you feel?  Great, right?!  Same with volunteering – you benefit personally by incorporating service and making a difference in other people’s lives, throughout your communities and your country.

All types of individuals volunteer.  Parents are one of the largest groups to volunteer.  Many parents work tirelessly as volunteers in schools or with youth organizations.  This aids in the development of our young people and helps our youth succeed.  They work to  raise funds, mentor, tutor and teach our youth.

Another large group of volunteers do neighborhood projects, assisting their less-capable neighbors with projects they themselves can’t accomplish.  There best part of volunteering are the wonderful intangible benefits – an increase in pride, satisfaction and accomplishment.

Veterans are a very large source of volunteers in our country.  Their commitment to serve continues well beyond their service of duty.  According to “Volunteering in America”, an average of 26% of all veterans continue to volunteer in their communities.

So – are there any health benefits to volunteering?

The simple answer is yes!

The Corporation for National and Community Service examined this relationship.  Their review of health benefits showed that volunteers had lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression.

Among older volunteers, it’s reported that volunteering provides them with both a physical and social activity.  There seems to be a definite sense of purpose among this group.  Older individuals and most of their peers are facing changing social roles and potentially questioning their place in society.  Volunteering keeps them going.  And longitudinal studies show they have lower mortality rates and live longer.

So volunteerism can enhance the overall health of our population, as well as foster a culture of citizenship, service and responsibility in our world.

And if you’re in the Tampa Bay area this July, come on down and volunteer.  You know we’ll be there, and we’d love to meet you!  So come on down – you’ll make a difference – and feel great about it!

If not Tampa Bay, then ask yourself:  Where can I volunteer?  The payoff will be tremendous!