Volunteers are the backbone of many organizations, contributing time, expertise and passion for a cause. Organizations, from national charities to local fundraising events need volunteers to achieve success. The impact from these volunteers often is immeasurable. However, volunteering also offers many benefits for the volunteer. Benefits of volunteering The first benefit of volunteering is the difference a volunteer can make in just one person’s life. Parents who volunteer generally have children who become volunteers as adults, helping to establish the next generation of compassionate, proactive volunteers. Volunteering also offers many benefits for long-time professionals as well as new additions to the workforce. These benefits include: • Learning/developing new skills • Leadership experience • Developing new friendships plus networking contacts • Résumé enhancement • Opportunity to share skills/talents with others • Contributing positively to your community Volunteering provides mental and emotional benefits Research has determined a strong relationship between volunteering and health. Volunteering offers several important mental and emotional benefits such as improving self-confidence and self-esteem, fulfilling the need to feel valued, and keeping the mind engaged in problem-solving activities. Volunteers often feel an overall mood improvement after reaching out and sharing their time to help others — the simple act of giving without expecting anything in return can be a powerful mood enhancer. In the 2013 Health and Volunteering Study published by UnitedHealth Group, “94% of people who volunteered in the last twelve months say that volunteering improves their mood.” Physical benefits of volunteering An improved mental and emotional state can benefit physical health. Happier people tend to stress less and enjoy more feelings of contentment. Lowered stress levels are better for blood pressure and overall heart health. A 2013 study from Carnegie Mellon University, published in Psychology and Aging stated, “Adults over age 50 who volunteered on a regular basis were less likely to develop high blood pressure than non-volunteers. High blood pressure is an important indicator of health because it contributes to heart disease, stroke, and premature death.” In general, volunteers also tend to exercise more and maintain a healthy diet both of which contribute to healthier blood pressure levels. The Corporation for National and Community Service, Office of Research and Policy Development published “The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research.” This research revealed that volunteers who share 100 or more hours of their time each year, are “the most likely to exhibit positive health outcomes.” Senior volunteers may enjoy the most health benefits from their volunteering activities, helping them to stay active, maintain independence, and enjoy a variety of social interactions. Businesses benefit from employee volunteers Employees who volunteer provide specific benefits to their employers. Employees who volunteer regularly are happier, less stressed, and tend to suffer less illness. These employees are better able to focus on important tasks at work, helping productivity and overall workplace mood. In addition, healthier employees lead to lower health care costs. Volunteers who work with The Women’s Breast & Heart Health Initiative (WBHI) gain leadership skills, improved public-speaking, team-building skills and overall improved confidence – all while helping to fight breast cancer and heart disease, one woman at a time. So the question is: What are you waiting for? Sign-up to volunteer for WBHI’s Fall Door-to-Door Outreach today!