According to an article from the Stanford Center for Longevity, there is a relationship between volunteering and improved physical health and cognitive function. “Research also shows that volunteers report elevated mood and less depression, and that volunteers report increased social interactions and social support, better relationship quality, and decreased loneliness.” longevity.stanford.edu/three-reasons-why-people-dont-volunteer-and-what-can-be-done-about-it/ A recent contributor to Deseret News had this to say about her volunteer experience: “I’ve experienced the boost in happiness, the sense that I was part of something bigger. I made friends, formed connections that I still have to this day, and I felt more optimistic about the world when I was surrounded by people who, like me, were trying to help others.” www.deseret.com/coronavirus/2022/4/17/23024241/will-the-volunteers-come-back-nonprofit-volunteering-covid-pandemic.
Of course, volunteerism strengthens communities as well. As people of different backgrounds come together to serve our neighbors, we discover that we have much more in common than we ever imagined. Getting to know our neighbors and working together to lend a hand is an antidote to the violence, divisiveness, and acrimony we are reading in today’s headlines. Whether it is one-on-one mentoring, serving meals, doing laundry at a homeless shelter, cleaning up a local park or working at an animal shelter, or many other opportunities, each selfless act truly does help make the world a better place.
While all of this is good news, non-profits are struggling to find volunteers to meet their needs. A Gallup survey published in January 2022 concluded that, “monetary charitable donations are mostly back to their pre-pandemic levels, while volunteerism still lags.” news.gallup.com/poll/388574/charitable-donations-rebound-volunteering-down.aspx
This is being borne out by the experience of some of our local area non-profits. One example is The Lamb Center in Fairfax which provides daytime drop-in services to people experiencing homelessness. Tara Ruszkowski, Executive Director, reports that one of the Center’s biggest challenges right now is finding enough volunteers to meet their needs. “The Lamb Center has seen a marked increase in daily visits from our homeless neighbors. We are back to pre-COVID levels, serving over 100 people a day! As the number of individuals who come for services rises, our need for support increases. Now is a great time to join our efforts! We are currently seeking volunteers for our kitchen, front desk, and clothing closet. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in joining our volunteer team!”
So …. ready to move on, roll up your sleeves and make a difference? Check in with your local house of worship, or check out opportunities on the Tysons Interfaith Resources Page: (Be sure to take a look at the list of amazing local non-profits in our area.) tysonsinterfaith.org/resources/
This blog post is the expressed opinion of its writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Tysons Interfaith or its members.