Volunteering feels good. But why? Research has shown that volunteering offers many benefits. When giving back to the community, these benefits can include improved physical and mental health, an increased sense of purpose, gaining a new skill set, or building new relationships. Read on to find out more!
Improves physical and mental health.
Volunteer activities keep people moving and thinking at the same time. Research has found that volunteering among adults provided benefits to physical and mental health, and volunteers report better physical health than do non-volunteers. Research also has shown that volunteering leads to lower rates of depression and anxiety, especially for people 65 and older.
Volunteering reduces stress and increases positive, relaxed feelings by releasing dopamine. By spending time in service to others, volunteers report feeling a sense of meaning and appreciation, both given and received, which can have a stress-reducing effect. Reduced stress further decreases risk of many physical and mental health problems, such has heart disease, stroke, depression, anxiety and general illness. In addition, a Longitudinal Study of Aging found that individuals who volunteer have lower mortality rates than those who do not, even when controlling for age, gender and physical health.
Provides a sense of purpose and teaches valuable skills.
The work that volunteers provide is often essential to everyday activities, which gives volunteers a sense of purpose, especially when volunteering in areas they find meaningful. Volunteers often experience greater increases in life satisfaction and self-esteem.
At Agape Center Lynchburg, some serve as mentors, provide information over the phone, and assist clients while shopping for food and other items. Some volunteers use their craft skills to make prayer shawls, blankets, and gift baskets. Other services they provide include working in the donation intake area, the clothing rooms, and in the office performing clerical work.
Nurtures new and existing relationships.
Volunteering increases social interaction and helps build a support system based on common interests. One of the best ways to make new friends and strengthen existing relationships is to participate in a shared activity. Dedicating time as a volunteer helps expand social network and practice social skills with others.
Volunteers at Agape Center Lynchburg have a variety of backgrounds but share a desire to care for the physical and spiritual welfare of people in their communities. They are men, women, retirees, teenagers, former clients, professionals, homemakers and students. They volunteer for different reasons, such as to explore non-profit work, sharpen interpersonal skills, stay active during retirement, meet new people and serve their community.
Are you interested in becoming a volunteer? There is a wide variety of volunteer opportunities here at Agape Center Lynchburg. Peruse our website to see the many ways you can serve our local community here at Agape. Join us and make a difference in the lives of neighbors and friends who need a helping hand. CLICK HERE to learn more!
*Thoreson, Angela, LICSW. Helping people, changing lives: 3 Health Benefits of volunteering. Mayo Clinic Health System, September. 2021