This past Saturday was International Volunteer Day, a day sponsored by United Nations to recognize the efforts of individuals who donate their time towards the greater good. How did you celebrate? I spent the afternoon roller skating with Katie and Alexis, the two girls I mentor through Big Brothers Big Sisters. There were a few spills; but, as always, we had a lot of fun.
Volunteerism has always been an important part of my life, both personally and professionally. I donate my time for many reasons – it’s fun, I meet interesting people, it’s a good learning opportunity, and it just feels good to give back. However, there could also be some unexpected physical and mental benefits to my philanthropic activities. According to a 2004 study at the Center on Aging and Health at Johns Hopkins, volunteering increases physical, cognitive, and social abilities. The Corporation for National and Community Service reports that older adults who volunteer have lower mortality and depression rates. The Bronfenbrenner Life Course Center at Cornell University published data that attributes increased self-esteem in individuals in midlife to volunteerism. With findings like these, it’s no wonder 61.8 million Americans donated their time last year.
When I volunteer, I always feel that I get more out than I put into it. In addition to the good feeling of being socially responsible, I’m also unwittingly strengthening my health and prolonging my life. Wow!
For more information on how you can experience the benefits of volunteering in Northeast Ohio first hand, check out the community organizations listed on our Links page or visit Greater Cleveland Volunteers, RSVP of Lake County or Lorain County RSVP.