| Thu, Mar 20, 2014 @ 09:00 AM

Volunteering: Good for Others, Good for You

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

April 5-12, 2014 is benefits of volunteeringNational Volunteer Week. Sponsored by the Points of Light nonprofit volunteer organization, National Volunteer Week is about inspiring, recognizing and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities.

Let’s take a minute to talk about volunteering: the benefits to being a volunteer, and some tips for how to make it a good experience.

Why should I volunteer?

When you volunteer, you’re making the world a better place for you and the people around you. You’re solving problems, connecting to others and strengthening the communities in which we live. And you get the satisfaction of knowing that you’re making a difference. But did you know that volunteering has real physical benefits as well?

The Corporation for National & Community Service, a federal agency that runs service programs, published a study in 2007 in which they reviewed the current research about connections between health and volunteering. Among other things, they learned:

  • While volunteering can have healthy benefits for everyone, people who are 60 and older tend to realize the greatest benefits.
  • There seems to be a strong connection between better physical health and those who volunteer. And this is true for larger areas, too: States with higher volunteer rates also had lower rates of heart disease and fewer health problems.
  • Volunteering seems to lead to greater life satisfaction and lower rates of depression.
  • People who volunteer tend to live longer.

What type of volunteering should I do?

You may not be actively volunteering, but you’re ready to get going. Or perhaps you’re already a volunteer, but would like to do more, or try something new.

Here are some suggestions for getting started volunteering, or taking your volunteer life in a new direction:

1. You can make great use of the skills or talents you may have developed in your professional life as a volunteer. Or you could…

2. Use your volunteer opportunity to try something you’re interested in, but never had a chance to try before. Some organizations offer professional development to their volunteers, so they can develop skills in a new area for them.

3. Consider your schedule when you look into a volunteer “job.” Would you prefer something that’s regular and steady, like a monthly commitment? Or would you prefer something larger but less regular, like helping plan one big annual event?

4. Want to get closer to a friend? Help instill the value of civic responsibility in your grandchildren? Connect to others in your place of worship? Sign up together.

How can I get connected with the right volunteering for me?

If reading this blog post has piqued your interest in volunteering, take a look at the online resources below. You can also tell your friends and acquaintances in your community about what you’re looking for. Just like networking to find the right job, sometimes someone can connect you with the right organization or volunteer position for you.

For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.

Resources:

Do Good. Live Well.: UnitedHealthcare’s initiative to promote the health benefits of volunteering, and connect people with volunteer opportunities in their community.

VolunteerMatch: A nonprofit organization that specializes in online connections between community organizations, volunteers and business leaders.

Senior Corps: A Corporation for National & Community Service program that connects 55+ people with the right service organizations for them.

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