This week is Occupational Safety and Health Week here in North America and since many of you come to our blog by way of our Chamber website, we are mostly connected with safety and health via the workplace. Our Live Healthy Brown County newsletter will come out tomorrow, as it usually does, but this week it will include a new feature – volunteer opportunities. You may be thinking that is because I’m always looking for volunteers for lots of things. And, I do that, yes – but we are including it because volunteering is good for your health! I was always told it helping others is good for the soul, but I’m thrilled to find it is more than that.
A few bits of information on this topic:
- Improvement of cardiovascular health. Being a volunteer can lower your blood pressure and improve heart problems. One study, done by the University of Michigan Research Center, showed that volunteers with a history of heart problems had reduced chest pain and lower cholesterol levels compared with non-volunteers.
- Lower risk of death. Another study on older adults who volunteer regularly demonstrated that those who spend time volunteering may enjoy a longer lifespan.
- Better mental functioning. Concerned about preserving your brain power as you age? An increase in cognitive (mental) functioning is yet another potential benefit of volunteering.
- Overall mind and body improvement. Volunteers have been shown to have reduced anxiety and depression and an overall sense of well-being. Volunteers have also been found to recover more quickly from surgery, sleep better, and have healthier immune systems compared to people who do not volunteer.
Volunteering provides many benefits to both mental and physical health.
- Volunteering increases self-confidence. Volunteering can provide a healthy boost to your self-confidence, self-esteem, and life satisfaction. You are doing good for others and the community, which provides a natural sense of accomplishment. Your role as a volunteer can also give you a sense of pride and identity. And the better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive view of your life and future goals.
- Volunteering combats depression. Reducing the risk of depression is another important benefit of volunteering. A key risk factor for depression is social isolation. Volunteering keeps you in regular contact with others and helps you develop a solid support system, which in turn protects you against stress and depression when you’re going through challenging times.
- Volunteering helps you stay physically healthy. Volunteering is good for your health at any age, but it’s especially beneficial in older adults. Studies have found that those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate than those who do not, even when considering factors like the health of the participants. Volunteering has also been shown to lessen symptoms of chronic pain or heart disease.
The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research has found a significant connection between volunteering and good health.
The report shows that volunteers have greater longevity, higher functional ability, lower rates of depression and less incidence of heart disease. The report is available by clicking here.
“Volunteering makes the heart grow stronger,” said David Eisner, CEO of the Corporation. “More than 61 million Americans volunteer to improve conditions for people in need and to unselfishly give of themselves. While the motivation is altruistic, it is gratifying to learn that their efforts are returning considerable health benefits.”
The Health Benefits of Volunteering documents major findings from more than 30 rigorous and longitudinal studies that reviewed the relationship between health and volunteering, with particular emphasis on studies that seek to determine the causal connection between the two factors. The studies, which were controlled for other factors, found that volunteering leads to improved physical and mental health.
Research suggests that volunteering is particularly beneficial to the health of older adults and those serving 100 hours annually. According to the report:
- A study of adults age 65 and older found that the positive effect of volunteering on physical and mental health is due to the personal sense of accomplishment an individual gains from his or her volunteer activities.
- Another study found that volunteering led to lower rates of depression in individuals 65 and older.
- A Duke study found that individuals who volunteered after experiencing heart attacks reported reductions in despair and depression – two factors that that have been linked to mortality in post-coronary artery disease patients.
- An analysis of longitudinal data found that individuals over 70 who volunteered approximately 100 hours had less of a decline in self-reported health and functioning levels, experienced lower levels of depression, and had more longevity.
- Two studies found that volunteering threshold is about 100 hours per year, or about two hours a week. Individuals who reached the threshold enjoyed significant health benefits, although there were not additional benefits beyond the 100-hour mark.
“This is good news for people who volunteer,” said Robert Grimm, Director of the Corporation’s Office of Research and Policy Development and Senior Counselor to the CEO. “This research is particularly relevant to Baby Boomers, who are receiving as well as giving when they help others. Just two hours of volunteering a week can bring meaningful benefits to a person’s body and mind.”
Volunteering in America: 2007 State Trends and Rankings in Civic Life, a report that includes numerous measures on volunteering and civic engagement. The Health Benefits of Volunteering report builds on that by showing states with higher volunteer rates also have better health and that there is a significant statistical relationship between states with higher volunteer rates and lower incidents of mortality and heart disease.
“There is now a convergence of research leading to the conclusion that helping others makes people happier and healthier. So the word is out – it’s good to be good. Science increasingly says so,” said Dr. Stephen Post, a professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and co-author of the forthcoming book “Why Good Things Happen to Good People: The Exciting New Research That Proves the Link Between Doing Good and Living a Longer, Healthier, Happier Life.”
This follow-up report issued today brings more evidence that volunteering produces significant health benefits. Those who gave social support to others had lower rates of mortality than those who did not – even when controlling for socioeconomic status, education, marital status, age, gender, and ethnicity, the report stated.
So, look for the column tomorrow to find ways to volunteer and we will give you links for even more ways to volunteer. In fact, here is the link to the Volunteer Center of Brown County’s community database to search for more!
Check your calendar!! Volunteers needed for grade school reading during Earth Week, April 21-22
About 100 area teachers have requested a volunteer to read and lead a discussion on The Lorax or Miss Rumphius for area grade school children during Earth Week on April 21 and 22. We supply the book, you supply your talents! If you can help, please contact Greater Green Bay Earth Week Coalition Chair Jodi Arndt, jla@lcojlaw as soon as possible.
In keeping with the spirit of National Volunteer Week, the Beautification Committee of De Pere is looking to expand its ranks.
“There’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to keep our community looking festive and tidy,” explains Rose Smits, chair of the Beautification Committee, which is a program of the De Pere Area Chamber Foundation. “We receive invaluable assistance from members of the De Pere Woman’s Club, but we can always use additional help tending to flower beds and other plantings, and also with the weekly clean-up along the Fox River Trail in the downtown area.”
The committee is responsible for planting and maintaining annual and perennial flowers in beds at eight different sites in the city. Last year, more than 2,300 plants – including globe artichokes and kale grown by students at West De Pere High School – were planted. This year, spring bulbs are scheduled to be planted in the large roundabout at the bridge approach. Flowers are usually planted the last week in May, and volunteers weed the beds weekly.
Committee volunteers also walk the Fox River Trail weekly between Cook Street and the Kress Library to pick up litter. “This is a very relaxing and enjoyable volunteer experience,” Smits notes. “After the major trail clean-up in the spring, it is easy for one or two volunteers to grab a coffee or soft drink at one end of the trail and walk to the other end with a garbage bag. The trail is a tremendous asset to our downtown, and our committee is happy to work with other local groups to keep it clean and attractive.”
Persons interested in volunteering for the Beautification Committee should contact Dr. Beth Nasal, the chamber’s volunteer coordinator, at 336-9595, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org
On Saturday, I posted a blog article from the Michigan Main Street about volunteering and why to do so.
However, since it was Saturday and my mind was “off-work” I didn’t think about OUR volunteer needs!
Today, I am “on-work” (what, off’s opposite is on – yes) and so am talking about our volunteer needs. The Chamber is a member-owned, member-managed, volunteer-driven organization that literally lives on the work-blood of our volunteers.
There are many volunteer opportunities with the De Pere Area Chamber of Commerce and its programs, Main Street De Pere, Beautification and SEEDs for De Pere.
Join the committee that matches your passion – have fun while making a difference. Become an active member of one of the many committees that play a pivotal role in maintaining and improving the quality of life in the De Pere area.
For more information on volunteer opportunities, please contact our volunteer coordinator at email@example.com to create the best fit and the most rewarding experience for you.
Check us out often for new committees and volunteer opportunities or better yet, complete our volunteer application and let us match you! By the way, if you are already one of our volunteers, thank you! And if you haven’t completed the volunteer application/profile, could you please do so and send to Beth Nasal, Volunteer Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org for our database?
Come volunteer – you’ll have a great time AND feel good too! And to inspire you:
Shannon McNamara, SHARE: Shannon’s After-school Reading Program
While most teenagers are updating their MySpace status on the hour and spending money on ringtones and junk food, high school junior Shannon McNamara keeps busy managing the nonprofit she founded when she was 15 years old. READ MORE
Except, that, well … I am working – just a bit because I got notification THAT OUR NEW WEBSITE HOME PAGE IS UP!! Just click over <<<<——– and you’ll get to see it.
Why, yes. I am excited. Why do you ask?
If you’ve ever created or updated a website, you know exactly what I’m feeling.
In other news though, since we are “not-working” it gives us time to think about volunteering! From the Michigan Main Street Center comes a great blog post on volunteering that I like so much, I’m going to copy here!
Volunteers are the lifeblood of any organization and ours is absolutely no exception. When you are over there <<<—— checking out that cool new home page (hint hint), click on “volunteer” to get more info. (or you can click HERE)
Before I leave to read the rest of this post, I HAVE to say thank you and we LOVE it to Chris Schmitz at Perception LLC for the beautiful job on the home page. And, even more thanks for the patience in dealing with me!
By Laura Krizov, Manager
Michigan Main Street Center
Michigan State Housing Development AuthorityWe all understand that in order for Main Street to work in communities you have to have volunteers. Volunteers are the backbone of any Main Street community. Building a community-based revitalization program means engaging people through outreach and volunteer opportunities. It seems no matter how much we try to advise communities that Main Street is hard work and takes a lot of volunteers, communities don’t understand until they commit to starting their own local program. When talking about the Main Street program we tell communities that Main Street is not a quick fit to downtown revitalization. It is going to take time, energy and commitment for Main Street to work. You will need volunteers.Main Street is so successful because it requires people living in your community to work together which then strengthens community connections. Unlike many organizations, the volunteers who serve on Main Street boards and committees must take a hands-on role in running the program and implementing its activities. It is important to get people involved that have an interest and ideas on how to revitalize the downtown. Again, it is going to be those people that want to see something to happen in their downtown doing the work.
When someone gives of their time, they are actually improving the life of their own community. The more people give of their time, the healthier and more vibrant your community. When people in the community are involved in civic activities and earn the trust and cooperation of others, great ideas come to life.Here are several reasons to volunteer in your community:
- Reduce stress
- Get to know the community
- Have a skill that is needed
- Satisfaction from accomplishment
- Have an impact
- Learn Something new
- Meet new people
- Because you were asked
- Have fun!We all have reasons that we volunteer. When you’re considering volunteer for those certain opportunities in your community, remember to focus your efforts on those projects that motivate you. And most importantly make sure that you have fun in what you are volunteering for.