Volunteering: Feeling Good When Doing Good

Article from Aging Gracefully, September 2018, Volume 21, Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” – Martin Luther King, Jr. Volunteering: an individual or group provides services for no financial gain “to benefit another person, group or organization”. Volunteering is often intended to promote goodness or to improve the quality of life (Wikipedia). Volunteering offers vital help to people in need, the community, and organizations. An older adult volunteer can offer time, expertise, and talent in many areas. The key is to match one’s strengths and talents to the right volunteer opportunity. Once this is done, volunteering can offer many benefits to one’s mental and physical health. It starts with the “Helper’s High”, also known as the “Happiness Effect”, it’s the “feel-good sense” one gets for helping out. Volunteering may help increase happiness and provide a sense of purpose. It may offer the opportunity to learn new skills and build self-confidence.  Volunteering may help people to stay physically and mentally active. “Older volunteers experience greater increases in life satisfaction and greater positive changes in their perceived health as a result of volunteering” (Mayo Clinic Health System). Volunteering may help to increase physical activity like walking and help ease one to complete everyday tasks. Many resources show that being a volunteer may help to lessen depression, stress, and anxiety by enhancing and improving a person’s mood. Volunteering can keep one physically active and mentally engaged.  Volunteering is a wonderful way to get involved in the local community. Many older individuals with developmental disabilities have not been engaged within their community. Volunteering can allow the person to connect to their community and make new friends and build relationships. Volunteering can be a fun way to explore and pursue one’s interests. It can help to renew creativity and motivation and make a person’s life richer. If one is interested in volunteering, look at one’s interests, likes, and dislikes as guides to the best volunteer opportunity. For example, do you prefer to work alone or with others? Do you want to help with people or animals. How much time do you have to commit to the position? Possible locations can be area hospitals, senior centers, Community Theater, museums and places of worship, to name a few. Remember to volunteer the amount of time and the type of work that feels comfortable. Volunteering should be an enjoyable experience. “As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands – one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” – Audrey Hepburn


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