Everyone knows volunteering has an amazing impact on the community. It can strengthen relationships (mentoring/after-school programs), beautify an area (school and park clean up) and support community needs (donations). But, what you may not know are the benefits volunteering can give YOU!
Experts suggest there are plenty, here are just a few:
- Reduce stress. Focusing on someone or something other than yourself stops tension producing patterns that cause stress levels to rise.
- Improve cardiovascular health. A study by the University of Michigan Research Center, showed volunteers who had a history of heart problems reduced chest pain and lowered their cholesterol levels in comparison to those who did not volunteer.
- Help anxiety and depression. There’s no surprise that helping others makes us feel good, but it can also help our mental health. Altruism—unselfish acts of kindness—not only feed our soul, but our body and mind too.
- Promote personal growth. You may discover a hidden talent for painting, or change your view on the community you live in. I know personally, after volunteering with 2,000 Quicken Loans team members, I felt a huge amount of personal growth after my experience. Traveling just 10 minutes from where I live, work, and play, I realized how much my community needed help. Yours could always need it too, check out National Service to see where you are needed.
As much as your time is appreciated, sometimes you just can’t do it. Or, you can’t do it consistently. In that case, donate to your community or a non-profit organization. Even the smallest donation can help! Plus, any charitable contribution is tax deductible just don’t forget to save your documentation. I’m sure at this point, you’ve seen one (or in my case, several) ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos. Some people think the point of these videos is to not make a donation and instead dump a bucket of ice cold water on your head. What you may not know is that you should donate $10.00 if you do the challenge and $100.00 if you don’t. If you haven’t done so yet, take a few minutes and watch some of the funnier challenges at Buzzfeed. If you’ve taken the challenge, don’t forget to donate!
Whether you contribute your time or a donation, giving to those who can never pay you back is the most rewarding experience of all. It’s a great opportunity to see the change that YOU can make in your own life and in your community.
Below are some pictures of when I volunteered at Henderson Academy Elementary School in Detroit!