Do good. Feel good. You know that great feeling you experience after an energetic workout? It comes from the release of dopamine in the brain. Helping others can produce that same effect. So in effect, the more you volunteer, the happier and healthier you may become. And there are many different ways to volunteer, from weekly to the occasional project.
Research by the Mayo Clinic highlights six distinct benefits of volunteering, from decreasing the risk of depression to helping people live longer. Their research shows that volunteering helps people stay physically and mentally active, develop new skills, build new relationships, reduce stress and expand one’s social networks.
Families are reporting the benefits of engaging in volunteer activities with their children. It gives them time together as family, it helps build values, and it’s great for their children to see the results of their efforts. Many families also state that volunteering has been a way to introduce their children to the difficulties other families often face.
Our area nonprofits depend on a strong cadre of giving volunteers to help them achieve their mission. Often, many of the programs and services they deliver could not happen without volunteers giving of their time and talents.
These volunteers play a critical role in helping to empower individuals and in building inclusive and resilient communities where all people can flourish. Volunteering is often community development, one person at a time.
Volunteers come from a wide variety of backgrounds, but share the common desire to help others, improve their communities and give something back.
Corporate volunteering programs continue to pick up steam locally and nationally. The reasons are varied and include higher employee satisfaction, improved employee engagement and a greater recognition of the company throughout the community. Research in the United Kingdom shows another interesting outcome of corporate volunteerism: It creates new opportunities for people to come together and creatively problem-solve, and actually talk face-to-face.
So many of our area businesses let their employees support a myriad of organizations, all on work time. These organizations also benefit from the donation of slightly used equipment and furnishings. And, if it’s not people power they supply, the financial support provided is immeasurable. When a business provides sponsorship funds, the dollars raised from an event or other fundraiser can then all go back to support the intended project.
Cabot Creamery has a neat program for volunteers known as Reward Volunteers. This online resource is a free and easy way to record time spent volunteering. Further, you can win prizes. There is also a section for organizations where they post volunteer opportunities, schedule their volunteers and track volunteer time.
Increasingly, local civic groups are filling needs. Launch Detroit, is one such example. This is an endeavor by the Rotary District 6400 Foundation and is being replicated in other Rotary areas. This program is helping to develop small businesses and entrepreneurs in under-resourced communities. Through this program, participants are provided access to business development services, networking opportunities and business loans.
Nick’s Ride 4 Friends is hosting its first Nick’s Night Out on March 23. Proceeds will help expand “The Clubhouse,” the purchase of a van and an expansion of the wellness program. Help raise awareness about the many faces of addiction and support recovery.
Cayuga County Habitat for Humanity is looking for volunteers to help rehabilitate its newest house on Grant Street. The group is also planning a Women’s Build on May 12. For more information, visit cayugahabitat.org.
Community volunteers will be needed to build the new inclusive Casey Park playground. The community build will take place from Tuesday, May 1, through Sunday, May 6. Each construction day will be broken into three shifts: 8 a.m. to noon, 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. and 5 to 7:30 p.m. Approximately 80 volunteers will be needed per shift. Businesses and individuals are needed to donate tools and food.
The Harriet Tubman Boosters are currently engaged in a membership drive. Through the efforts of the boosters, there are many ways in you become involved in supporting and spreading the legacy of Harriet Tubman. Their next meeting is 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 28, in the Phoenix Building. Visit their website at harriettubmanboosters.org, or like them on Facebook.
In the words of Erma Bombeck, “Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain love for one another."