What is the essence of life? To serve others and do good. ~Aristotle.
Much has changed since we first learned of COVID-19. The impact to our lives both economically and socially has left many of us overwhelmed and in need of relief. As livelihoods across the globe have been affected, the need for volunteers is greater than ever before.
Volunteering is Connecting As humans we need to connect. Especially given our forced months of isolation. In a recent interview, Dr. Vivek Murthy, Surgeon General of the United States during the Obama administration, stated, “Americans are suffering from lack of human connection… loneliness was impacting them not only mentally but also physically.”
When we volunteer, we have the opportunity not only to give to others who may be in need, but to feel that connection with others that is critical for our survival.
Volunteering is Good for Your Wellbeing Volunteering not only helps the people who receive the services provided, it is good for the people doing the volunteering. In a recent conversation, Jamie Larsen, Founder and CEO of Generus, stated, “We know that people feel better when they volunteer. They feel better emotionally, they feel better socially, and they feel more connected. A recent study showed that volunteering dramatically improved the mood of volunteers. 94% said it improved their mood, and 78% said it reduced stress levels.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, volunteering can provide numerous health benefits, including:
A decreased risk of depression. Offering your time to others provides the opportunity to form social connections and bonds based on common interests.
A sense of purpose. Volunteering can provide a deeper connection to the impact an organization’s purpose has in the world.
Helping people stay physically and mentally active. Research has shown that volunteers report better overall health than non-volunteers.
Reducing anxiety and overwhelm. Stress levels, at an all-time high during the pandemic, may be reduced when volunteering. Blood pressure may also be reduced.
Providing opportunities to meet others and develop new relationships. Volunteering provides a great way to get to know people in your community. Dedicating your time as a volunteer helps you expand your network and practice social skills with others.
Employer Sponsored Volunteering Increasingly, employers are recognizing the benefits of employee volunteering. Many employers provide paid time off for volunteering or sponsor specific community workdays. These workdays provide an opportunity for the company and its employees to visibly contribute to the community.
According to Ms. Larsen, “When volunteerism is part of workplace culture, you infuse it with energy and direction toward things like helpfulness, caring, and teamwork.”
Organizing a company outdoor volunteer opportunity can bring employees together before they go back to the office. Companies such as Generus, help organize company volunteer initiatives. For those that are comfortable practicing their social distancing skills, there are numerous opportunities to volunteer in person. And yes, there are also many volunteer opportunities available without leaving home.
Let’s follow Aristotle’s directive to serve others. Everyone benefits.