Why you should volunteer
The U.S. Congress has designated Sept. 11 as a National Day of Service and Remembrance. While many individuals make an extra effort to volunteer on this day, each year millions of Americans continually serve their communities.
In 2013, volunteers provided $173 billion in services throughout the U.S. Without these volunteers, many non-profit organizations would not be able to stay in existence. While volunteering helps these organizations, researchers have found that being a volunteer offers many additional benefits.
“People who volunteer in general are happier because they feel they are part of something bigger,” says Magda Scanlan, manager of volunteer services at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill and Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill. “Their own lives have a purpose that is bigger than themselves and they feel that they can make an impact on humanity.”
Volunteerism helps the health of volunteers, as well. Reasons include:
- Volunteers say they feel better physically, mentally and emotionally.
- Volunteers feel a deeper connection to their community and to others.
- Volunteers experience less stress and worry.
- Volunteers who serve with the purpose of helping others live longer.
- Volunteers over the age of 50 were less likely to develop high blood pressure
Scanlan says some simply want to help others while others want to say thank you to the hospital for saving their lives.
“In some cases, former patients even come back to volunteer because they were not able to pay for their care monetarily, but want to ‘pay’ for their care with the time they give back,” says Scanlan.
To find volunteer opportunities in your neighborhood, visit the Corporation for National and Community Service.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care sites, also including freelance or intern writers.