By: Matthew H. Fry, Esquire
In today’s society, between juggling a career, raising children, and maintaining a household, volunteering and community service are not usually things we think about. While you may go to a children’s ballgame or attend a local fundraiser, you may think that there are plenty of volunteers or that you would not have time to participate. However, don’t be fooled. Your community needs volunteers, and it can be good for you too!
Perhaps the biggest benefit people get from volunteering is the gratification of incorporating service into their lives and making a difference in their community. Volunteering also gives you the satisfaction of solving problems, strengthening your community, and allows you to connect with and improve the lives of others. These intangible benefits alone provide a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.
But in addition to those benefits, it can also benefit your health. Research indicates that volunteering provides individual health benefits as indicated in a report by the Corporation for National Community Service titled, “The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research,” which shows 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.
Volunteers who devote around 100 hours per year or more are most likely to exhibit positive health outcomes. While that may sound like a lot, this is less than 2 hours per week, and the benefits, not only to you but to your community organization, are immeasurable.
My wife and I work full time and have three children. Between work, children’s activities, and household chores, we do our best to volunteer in our community. I am on the board of the Lansdowne Boys and Girls Club, that provides local children’s sports programs and also regularly volunteer with Wills for Heroes, a program that provides estate plans to veterans and first responders. My wife also volunteers with the Boys and Girls Club, and manages a Girl Scout troop. While it may be hectic at times, the more people who want to help, the easier it becomes. And it’s not all work, as it can be both fun and rewarding. The friendships and contacts I have made have benefited me greatly, both personally and professionally.
Volunteering can be as easy as signing up for a few hours to help at one event, or can be an ongoing commitment to continue the work of an organization. So please, take a few minutes out of your busy schedule and think about what you can do to help strengthen your community. Even a few hours a week can be beneficial to your community – and you!