Perhaps the first and biggest benefit people get from volunteering is the satisfaction of incorporating service into their lives and making a difference in their community and country. Over the past two decades we have also seen a growing body of research that indicates volunteering provides individual health benefits in addition to social ones. This research, which is presented by CNCS in a report titled A Review of Recent Research” has established a strong relationship between volunteering and health: those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.
Comparisons of the health benefits of volunteering for different age groups have also shown that older volunteers are the most likely to receive greater benefits from volunteering, whether because they are more likely to face higher incidence of illness or because volunteering provides them with physical and social activity and a sense of purpose at a time when their social roles are changing.
Some of these findings also indicate that volunteers who devote a “considerable” amount of time to volunteer activities (about 100 hours per year) are most likely to exhibit positive health outcomes.
Benefits of Volunteering
The intangible benefits alone—such as pride, satisfaction, and accomplishment—are worthwhile reasons to serve. In addition, when we share our time and talents we:
- Solve Problems
• Strengthen Communities
• Improve Lives
• Connect to Others
• Transform Our Own Lives
There are endless opportunities to volunteer right here at your own YMCA. Coaching a sports team, Reading to the little people in Amazing Kids care, or taking an older adult that no longer drives to the grocery store are only a few the many things you can do to make a difference. What a pleasure it is to know that when you volunteer, you are not only giving back to your community but you are benefiting your own health and wellness.