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October 2012 – Engage in UNSELFISH SERVICE and VOLUNTEER regularly
FACT:  Findings from a review of over 30 research studies indicates a significant correlation between volunteering service to others and our physical and mental health.  Those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, lower rates of depression, and less incidence of heart disease – even when controlling for socioeconomic status, education, marital status, age, gender, and ethnicity.  

HOPE: Find a volunteer opportunity that best suits your skills, availability, and personality by contacting your church pastor, nonprofit community organizations (library, parks, senior centers, etc), or sites like www.Serve.gov or www.getinvolved.gov.  There are so many benefits to volunteer service that once you begin you’ll wonder why you didn’t get involved sooner! 

FACT:  Research findings indicate that volunteers who devote a “considerable” amount of time to volunteer activities are most likely to exhibit positive health outcomes. Those who volunteered for at least 100 hours per year were two-thirds as likely as non-volunteers to report bad health, and also one-third as likely to die.

HOPE:    You could view this level of commitment like joining a different kind of health club.  In exchange for two hours a week in community service you’ll improve your own health and life.  Perhaps that’s what Galatians 6:9 means when it reminds us to “give away your life; you'll find life given back . . . with bonus and blessing” (The Message Bible).  

FACT:   Can’t find time to volunteer?  Not surprisingly, volunteers and non-volunteers in general tend to spend their time in very similar ways, including in work, leisure, and other activities. However, volunteers trade off more than an hour a day of TV watching to engage in service. On average, those who have never volunteered watch 436 more hours of television than volunteers each year. 

HOPE: In addition to evaluating use of downtime, you can work volunteering into an already busy schedule by making a list of volunteer activities you can do when you have unexpected free time, combining family time with volunteering, or even taking a volunteer vacation like a mission trip to help those in need.

FACT:  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only about a quarter of the population aged 16 and older volunteered in 2009, and those who volunteer are most often Caucasian, female, college educated, and between the ages of 35 and 55.  In fact, the most likely person to volunteer is a woman with a job and children.

HOPE:   1 Peter 4:10 (ESV) reminds us that “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace.”  Everyone has skills, abilities and interests that can help others. What gets you really excited? What issues do you care about?  Figure out what moves you and you'll find that a place for your interests exists in the world of volunteering.

  • Grimm Jr., R., Spring, K., & Dietz, N. (2007). The health benefits of volunteering: A review of recent research. Corporation for National and Community Service, Office of Research and Policy Development, Washington, D.C.
  • Luoh, M-C. and Herzog, A.R. (2002). Individual consequences of volunteer and paid work in old age: Health and mortality. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 43(4): 490-509.
  • (2008). How do volunteers find the time?: Evidence from the American time use study. Volunteering in America Research Brief.  Retrieved October 8, 2012 from http://www.volunteeringinamerica.gov/assets/resources/ATUS_Brief.pdf.
  • (2012, February 22). Volunteering in the United States, 2011 . U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved October 8, 2012, from http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/volun.pdf

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