Clay Aiken is a man who volunteers his time, money and expertise when it comes to his favorite charities. He is also not afraid to suggest that his fans do the same thing. Do you remember the blog when he suggested that it would be wonderful if his fans spent more of the their time participating in work with charities?
Besides making a difference, volunteering should be an important part of your life.
Two recent major Health studies suggested that serving your community through volunteerism is likely to improve your life expectancy. Volunteering provides physical and social activity and a sense of purpose. Volunteers and non-volunteers were studied for frequency and severity of health problems, level of independence, cognitive ability and depression.
According to the National Corporation for National and Community Service Volunteers, getting involved is a healthy move that benefits everyone. Better health and lower rates of depression in later life were noted in long-time volunteers vs. non-volunteers.
“As the Baby Boomer generation moves into their next phase of life, we hope they will seek meaning by engaging with the community and giving time to make a difference,”
says Jay Bloom, of the AARP Volunteer Task Force. Not only does a high rate of civic engagement help a person health wise, it strengthens the community. Boomers, those born between 1946-1969 generally have a higher rate of volunteerism than other age groups, because of their financial stability.
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 data found that individuals over 70 who volunteered approximately 100 hours a year 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 the 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.
Long life, better health, making a difference and commitment are just the beginning. Seeing and reuniting with long-lost friends at community events was one additional benefit noted by Volunteers across these studies. The new motto seems to be “VOLUNTEER-everybody’s doing it!”
One of Clay Aiken’s favorite charities is UNICEF. This worldwide organization is always looking for effective end efficient volunteers. UNICEF has four different categories of volunteer interests.
2. Educate: UNICEF needs people to educate the community about the obstacles that children face every day in hopes of gathering support for the organization.
3. Fundraising: UNICEF has helpful tools to guide the volunteers in creating their own personal webpage and raise funds online.
4. Campus Initiative: This UNICEF idea is a way for college students to actively support UNICEF.
The following information about volunteering is on the UNICEF website:
UNICEF’s supporters include ordinary individuals, eminent personalities and children and young people themselves.
They range from volunteers who staff UNICEF stores, to interns who work in our offices; young children who go door-to-door to raise funds by ‘Trick or Treating for UNICEF,’ to beneficiaries of our efforts who are strongly committed to our work.
These individuals make an invaluable contribution to enabling and amplifying our efforts to ensure health, education, equality and protection for every child.
For more information on volunteering for UNICEF, visit their volunteer website, VOLUNTEER.
However you choose to volunteer, remember that when you volunteer your time and talents, you can help improve other people’s lives. At the same time you may also improve you own life.
V O L U N T E E R !