Tag Archives: volunteerism

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


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.

Studies Prove Volunteers Live Longer

Volunteers live longer!

This is one of the findings of a research study called “The Health Benefits of Volunteering” which was done in 2007 by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

According to the study, a growing body of research indicates that volunteering provides not just social benefits, but also individual health benefits for the volunteers.

These are some of the study’s most compelling conclusions . . .

    1.  The health benefits are greater for older volunteers (over 60) than for younger volunteers.

    2.  Benefits include improved physical and mental health and greater life satisfaction.

    3. There is a “volunteering threshold” for health benefits. That is to say, a minimum amount of volunteering is required to derive health benefits from the volunteer activities.  Interestingly, however, once that threshold is met, no additional health benefits result from volunteering more. (The definition of considerable volunteering has been variously defined by these studies as 1) volunteering with two or more organizations; 2) 100 hours or more of volunteer activities per year; and 3) at least 40 hours of volunteering per year.)

    4. When patients with chronic or serious illness volunteer, they receive benefits beyond what can be achieved through medical care.  That’s stunning!

    5. Volunteers have lower rates of depression.

The evidence is clear.  Volunteers live longer and more healthy lives.

You can read the study here.

Quotes About Volunteerism

Successful people of all ages help others. They do their part to make the world a better place. One way to practice kindness and generosity is through volunteerism.

These are my 10 favorite quotes about volunteerism or volunteering. I hope you like them as much as I do.

  • I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.
    Mahatma Gandhi
  • “Give help rather than advice.”
    Luc de Vauvenargues
  • Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain love for one another.
    Erma Bombeck
  • I was taught that the world had a lot of problems; that I could struggle and change them; that intellectual and material gifts brought the privilege and responsibility of sharing with others less fortunate; and that service is the rent each of us pays for living, the very purpose of life and not something you do in your spare time or after you have reached your personal goals.
    Marian Wright Edelman
  • It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Volunteering can be an exciting, growing, enjoyable experience. It is truly gratifying to serve a cause, practice one’s ideals, work with people, solve problems, see benefits, and know one had a hand in them.
    Harriet Naylor
  • “When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.
    Eleanor Roosevelt
  • “There is one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life – reciprocity.”
  • “Never doubt that a small group of commited people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
    Margaret Mead
  • No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.