When time is scarce, it's easy for volunteering to fall further down our priority list. But volunteering is better for us and for the community than we imagine. Consider what volunteering could mean for you. If you already volunteer, know that the time you give is as good for you as it is for the people you're helping.
1. Live a longer, happier life. According to Psychology Today, people who volunteer are happier and healthier than those who don't. Older volunteers, especially those who have donated time throughout their lives, have improved physical and mental well-being, as well as a longer lifespan. If you are over age 55, consider joining the RSVP 55+ volunteer initiative for extra benefits.
2. Expand your perspective. Volunteering gives you another chance to meet and learn from central Iowans with diverse experiences. Their stories are almost always moving, inspirational, and enlightening.
3. Connect with others, and boost your health. Fellow volunteers are often passionate about the same causes, and the bonding you experience while taking on a new challenge together can lead to lifelong friendships. Those connections are especially important to your emotional well-being. According to psychological research, loneliness is as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day (Holt-Lunstad, 2015).
4. Make an impact on your neighbors. Volunteering is the ultimate "local" investment. Through your volunteer work, you will be improving the lives of specific individuals who live and work nearby, giving them a hand up and ensuring that they can thrive in central Iowa—making the entire community even stronger.