When I refer to “value”, I’m not referencing the monetary value of a volunteer hour, which is estimated at $24.69/hour times the 140 million volunteers worldwide for a total of 400 billion dollars, according to the Johns Hopkins Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project.
No, I’m referencing the health benefits to the individual volunteer’s wellbeing, as posted online on Active Beat by Jeff Hayward on November 30th of this year. His six health benefits of volunteering include:
- Dopamine rush. This is the brain chemical that is responsible for the “happiness effect”. Your brain recognizes helping others as a reward and releases dopamine into your system for a good feeling that mirrors a rush of a workout. According to createthegood.org.
- Longer life. Psychology Today notes the benefits of staying active and connected to others through volunteering. This is particularly valuable in later life. The publication makes the claim that “volunteering is even more beneficial for one’s health than exercising and eating well.”
- Mental health benefits. Harvard Medical School touts the value of helping others which wards off loneliness and depression.
- Lower blood pressure. A study from Carnegie Mellon University shows a link between volunteering and lower risk of blood pressure. The study cites strong evidence that “having good social connections promotes healthy aging and reduces risk for a number of health outcomes.”
- Managed stress. Jeff quotes alive.com as noting that volunteering reduces stress levels “while increasing self-esteem and satisfaction with life.”
- Better self-esteem. Volunteering is not just for the benefit of others, healthyplace.com advances the idea that volunteering helps you feel better about yourself in a number of ways.
On a personal note, my time serving as the treasurer of Savage Support has brought me great satisfaction, joy, meaning, a sense of purpose and belonging. It has also just been a lot of fun with a group of fine people assisting those that could use the support.
Those are my own 6 points of the value of volunteering. Please consider a volunteering opportunity with Savage Support or another organization today. For your own benefit, as much as for others.
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