I recently visited the Frost Science Museum with my family and came across a display I would normally overlook at the MeLab. The display went on to say “Loneliness is a health risk. It greatly increases the risk of early death by 30%.” As an introvert at heart, I’ve never thought of how loneliness can play a part in one’s health and was intrigued by the display. It went on to read, “Reasons why loneliness is a growing problem.”
It’s easy to see why the display has a point-loneliness does seem to be an increasing problem. Now that being on our phones is the norm, it’s easy to see how we are becoming a culture where it’s hard to connect with others in the physical world.
The display went on to read “Stay Connected by…” And that’s when it hit me. The first option that was presented was VOLUNTEERING. Who would have thought volunteering would help lower any health risk associated with loneliness? I’m glad to say that it does!
From a very young age it’s been instilled in me to volunteer. I currently volunteer with my local church, Christ Fellowship, in the children’s department. I never understood until recently how volunteering and giving back creates such a drastic change in your life, outlook and ultimately, our overall health.
YOU NEED COMMUNITY
How many times have we thought someone should do something about a need in our community? Guess what? You are part of that community. It doesn’t have to be some grand gesture like feeding 5,000 people fish and bread, it can be offering a small portion of what you have, tangible or intangible, to make a difference.
Volunteering not only helps to give back to your community but creates a sense of community with other volunteers. It is a need that we have. We were not meant to live this life alone. I’ve noticed that being a volunteer has helped create another family I never thought I could have or could expand. A family that can support, encourage, drive and guide each other.
YOU NEED A PURPOSE
Volunteering brings a greater purpose and meaning to life. You need to know that you have a purpose. There’s something greater out there that you can achieve, something you can strive for. Focus on something outside yourself. Volunteering is that opportunity which allows you to take away the attention from you and help channel it to OTHERS; people that might be in need in what you have to offer. Can you think of a time when someone did something for you which changed some aspect of your life? Maybe that was their purpose.
YOU NEED SELF-DEVELOPMENT
Now, I have to admit that when you start volunteering it can be overwhelming. You might do these things that you’ve never done before or be put in a situation that you are not that comfortable with. That’s okay, we’ve all been there. Ultimately, you NEED it. I remember the first time I volunteered at my current church. I was asked to stand on stage and present a whole program to a group of about 20 children in a completely unfamiliar way. It was a little unnerving, but after everything was said and done, I can honestly say I learned so much more and expanded my knowledge on how to interact with them and my teammates. I was able to develop my abilities in that area.
Be it volunteering at your local church, at a local Boys & Girls Club, or your nearest soup kitchen, whatever avenue you choose, just get out there and VOLUNTEER. Be part of a community, create purpose in your life, change someone’s life other than your own, and give yourself a chance to grow in new areas of your life. Volunteer!
About the Author: Maria Desvergunat is a paralegal at Bast Amron LLP. She joined the Bast Amron team in May 2012. As a member of the Bast Amron team, she enjoys being part of a firm with a family-oriented environment and a strong sense of giving back to the community. Maria has spent a considerable amount of time working in the church community and has volunteered, among other things, as a Sunday school teacher. She currently volunteers with Christ Fellowship’s Kids’ department, which includes children in grade levels K-5. Maria is married to her husband of 11 years, Jonathan, and is a mother to her 2 boys, ages 8 and 4.