Would you like to live a longer, happier life? It turns out that research studies show that mortality rates are significantly reduced for older adults who volunteer in their communities by providing instrumental support to others.
As the new program coordinator for Pender Harbour Better at Home (serving Halfmoon Bay to Egmont), I was reading several research studies found on volunteer.ca and the “Value of Volunteering Wheel.” With this week being National Volunteer Appreciation Week, and April being National Volunteer Month, it is a great time for all of us to consider the value of volunteering.
No matter what your age, three great reasons to volunteer include improving your well-being, developing your skills and knowledge, and creating a sense of belonging in your community.
Those who volunteer on a regular basis can experience higher levels of mental wellbeing than those who never volunteer. Sometimes we just need a break or a change in our routine. Volunteering can give us this change while energizing and renewing our vitality.
Volunteering offers opportunities for personal growth, skill development and new knowledge.
One young woman, who was helping to deliver meals to her elders in her community, said that volunteering helped her to understand the struggles that seniors face. She grew to appreciate and respect her elders more. She felt that her volunteer experience helping seniors would help her care for her grandparents, and eventually her parents, better. It may also help her understand her own needs better as she ages.
Creating an authentic and meaningful sense of belonging is another valuable reason people choose to volunteer. There is a great feeling of satisfaction when you know that what you are doing is making a difference, not just for others, but also for the health and well-being of our community. The community connectedness achieved from volunteering deepens social networks and reduces the likelihood of social isolation.
When we volunteer, we create many opportunities to make new friends, network with other people and add value to the lives of both ourselves and others.
Volunteering can help people navigate major life transitions such as the death of a loved one or a change in career or retirement.
Most volunteers are over the age of 40. The number one reason that seniors volunteer is to make an important contribution to the community.
Whatever reason you choose to become a volunteer, know that you will be considered a community hero.