When considering New Year's resolutions, it’s easy to set a long list of vague ambitions: exercise more, learn a new skill, spend more time with family and friends, experience new places and so on. But if you want to combine all those goals into one, make your resolution to volunteer more in 2020.

The societal benefits of volunteering are obvious, but research has shown that volunteering can also offer many benefits to your personal well-being, especially if you’re an older adult, including:

  1. Volunteering can help you be physically and mentally active. Studies have found that volunteers over the age of 60 experience greater increases in life satisfaction and greater positive changes in their perceived health as a result of volunteering. If you’re over the age of 55, consider joining the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) to get connected with volunteer opportunities that could benefit your well-being.

    For all ages, consider volunteering at a Giving Garden or participating in the Graduation Walk. Other options could include building a house with Habitat for Humanity, packaging meals for Meals from the Heartland, or landscaping at local nonprofits such as Orchard Place.

  2. Volunteering can give a sense of purpose and teaches sometimes new, always valuable skills. Volunteers, such as those with United Way of Central Iowa, perform critical roles in helping us reach for our 2020 goals in our focus areas of education, health and financial stability. They read with young students to inspire a love of learning. They pack backpacks to ensure children have the school supplies they need to be successful throughout the school year. They make blankets for those who are in shelters. They invest time in and devote positive energy to their neighbors who feel alone, without money and without hope. The work they provide is essential to creating a better community, which gives volunteers a sense of purpose.

  3. Volunteering can help build rapport between team members, connect with family, and allows you to develop new relationships. One of the best ways to make new friends and strengthen existing relationships is to participate in a fun activity together. Volunteering is a great for you to meet and connect with people who share common interests. Dedicating your time as a volunteer also helps you expand your network and practice social skills with others. Encourage your team to join us for this year’s Day of Action or other special volunteer events.

  4. Volunteering can reduce stress and decrease the risk of depression. Research has shown that volunteering leads to lower rates of depression through increased social interactions. By savoring time spent in service to others, you will feel a sense of meaning and appreciation, both given and received, which can have a stress-reducing effect.

United Way of Central Iowa volunteers come from a wide variety of backgrounds and reasons for giving their time and energy, however, they share the common goal of helping others. Whether you have one hour or one day, want to mentor children or collect food, we have options for you. We also organize group activities for organizations on-site or off-site. All these efforts go toward improving the health, education, and financial stability of central Iowans. 

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TAGS: Volunteer

Sara Engelhart

About The Author: Sara Engelhart

Strategic Communications Content & Media Manager