Tag Archives: volunteer work

Volunteering In America

If I have a life philosophy that can be reduced to bumper sticker length, it is this: We’re all in this together.

Leave footprints by volunteeringOur differences are insignificant when compared to the things we have in common. Ultimately, almost all of us want the same things out of life: to succeed, have some fun, do some good and, if we’re lucky, leave footprints so someone will remember we were here.

One way many of us recognize our commonalities and our inter-dependence is through volunteering. I’ve written about this “secret” to a good life before, given you inspirational quotes about volunteering and even told you about research which shows that volunteers live longer!

Fascinating new statistics are out about volunteering in America. They come from the Corporation for National and Community Service which has released “Volunteering in America,” a detailed, multi-year report on volunteering trends and demographics.

Some of the most interesting findings are presented in this infographic.

Volunteering In America 2010

Who Else Wants To Trade A Couple Of Hours For A Lifelong Warm Glow?

Meals on Wheels
Meals on Wheels

I’ve delivered Meals on Wheels for more than 15 years.  I deliver around lunchtime on Friday and it takes about 2 ½ hours from the time I leave my office until I return.

As you probably know, Meals on Wheels is a volunteer program that delivers warm, nutritious meals to the (mostly elderly) homebound.

I had an experience recently which reminded me why I volunteer with Meals on Wheels. Let me tell you about it . . .

I rang the doorbell at Ms. B’s townhouse.  Because I had been delivering to her for several months, I knew that she is virtually blind and that, therefore, it takes her a while to get to the door.

So I waited patiently.  (Since I’m not known for my patience, developing it is a bonus benefit of this volunteer work.)

When Ms. B didn’t come to the door, I rang the door bell again – and knocked loudly too.

Still no answer.

I have Ms. B’s phone number on an index card that I carry in my car when I’m delivering, so I called her.  No answer.

I had a dozen other people waiting for hot meals, so I had to move on.  And I couldn’t leave Ms. B’s meal unattended outside her house.  It looked like Ms. B wasn’t going to get her meal.

But I had a hunch she was home, so I decided to make one more try. My index card had the phone number of one of her neighbors.  Sitting in my car, I started to dial the neighbor’s number.

As I was dialing, Ms. B finally appeared at the door. I yelled to her and ran back to her house.  She invited me in.

In the months that I had been delivering to Ms. B, she had been polite when I was at her house, but virtually expressionless.  She wasn’t talkative and didn’t reveal much about herself.

This time was different.

She had a big, bright smile that’s now embedded in my memory.  She told me that she had not come to the door sooner because she was a little disoriented and had not been able to find her way to the front door.

When she finally did locate the front door, she was so proud of herself.

She thanked me profusely for not leaving and told me how glad she was that she didn’t have to go without lunch.

Her smile was all the thanks I needed.

The Secret Of Volunteerism

Volunteerism
Volunteerism

It turns out that volunteerism is one of the secrets to living a Forever Young life.

I didn’t know that when I started volunteering.

Actually, I didn’t really think much about my decision to become a volunteer. I started just because it seemed like the right thing to do. It seemed like a necessary part of a balanced life.

My volunteer work has mostly involved coaching youth sports, feeding needy and homeless persons at soup kitchens, delivering meals to the homebound and community mediation.

I know that people have benefited from my work, and that makes me feel needed, appreciated and proud.

It was only after I had been a volunteer for a while that I realized how much I gained.

What it gives me, mainly, is a feeling of satisfaction because I’m doing my part.

And, get this. On top of that warm glow I get from volunteering, it turns out that there are proven physical and mental health benefits.

Talk about unexpected bonuses!

Yet fewer than 1 person in 10 knows this secret.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fewer than 10% of the American population volunteers on an average day.

The most active volunteers are those over 65, at about 9%. About 4% of those 25 to 34 volunteer and volunteerism increases with each ascending age group.

To see the Bureau of Labor Statistics chart that breaks down volunteerism by gender and age, click here.