Volunteering – A Win-Win for You and Your Community

Posted 10/20/10
Written by Chris Stoeri
Question: What activity can you take on that doesn’t cost anything, improves your health, gives you a feeling of empowerment, helps your community and has the potential to find cures for diseases? Answer: Volunteering.

I have previously written about strategies for coping with arthritis pain. One of those key strategies is getting involved with charitable work. I have been an advocate and fundraiser for the Arthritis Foundation because I have arthritis and have a vested interest in seeing the Foundation succeed. Over the last 15 years I have seen how my involvement has impacted my physical well-being and my state of mind. I have seen it have a positive impact on countless others as well.

Win #1 – Volunteering Helps You Feel Better
A recent study published by UnitedHealthcare and VolunteerMatch indicated that more than 68% of people who volunteered in the past year said that volunteering made them feel physically healthier, and 29% of volunteers who suffer from a chronic condition say that volunteering has helped them manage their chronic illness. 73% of volunteers indicated that volunteering has lowered their stress levels.

Win#2 – Volunteering Helps You Connect with Others

Meeting and working with others who share a common interest or a similar physical challenge can be a truly enriching experience. The contacts you make will provide support, friendship and a shared sense of purpose.

Win#3 – Volunteering Helps Your Community

While you get a number of positive impacts that volunteering provides, so does the organization you are volunteering for. The enthusiasm that you can bring to an organization has a large impact on their bottom line, and that has an impact on the programs they provide in your community and research dollars they can provide to find treatments and cures. Over the long run your investment of time and energy can help others lead happier and healthier lives.

The best part of volunteering is that it can be done in your community and around your schedule. If you live in an area that doesn’t have an organization dedicated to a cause you are interested in, you can choose something else like a homeless shelter, a rescue mission, or a more general organization like the Kiwanis club which supports a variety of causes. Think about matching your personality and interests with the needs of an organization.

If you’re not sure where to look for an organization, start with the Internet. If you have a physical condition that has an associated non-profit organization, they should be easy to find. Also, www.VolunteerMatch.org is a great site where you can enter your zip code along with keywords describing the type of volunteering opportunity you are looking for, and then you can browse through different volunteer need links.

Going back to the survey results – 92% of volunteers agree that volunteering enriches their sense of purpose in life. So what are you waiting for? It’s a win-win for you and your community!

About the Author
Chris Stoeri was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at age 17, and has spent several years as an active volunteer for the Arthritis Foundation. He founded EnableYourLife.com to help people with all types of diabilities to more easily tackle their daily challenges, providing a wide range of mobility products, self help aids, wheelchair parts and accessories, and thousands of other medical produtcts and supplies.