Volunteering is good for our health? Yes. And it's great for the health of our community.
Volunteers are needed now more than ever, as millions of unemployed and low-income people struggle to make ends meet and as thousands more are diagnosed daily with the coronavirus.
Another thing we’ve learned this year: “volunteering” no longer implies side-by-side interaction with others. Virtual and “no contact” volunteering opportunities are plentiful and should be added to the list of good health practices, along with frequent handwashing, keeping a distance, and wearing a mask.
The good news is that volunteers of all ages continue to show up, help out, and address community needs right here in Franklin County.
Here are just 4 ways to volunteer that will promote good health across your community:
Serve seniors. The social isolation caused by the pandemic puts seniors especially at an increased risk for adverse physical and mental health implications. In the spring and summer, United Way of Franklin County coordinated a Cards for Seniors campaign, where community members could write letters that would be distributed to seniors in local retirement communities. The ombudsman for Franklin County hosted an Adopt a Nursing Home program where families or groups could adopt a nursing home to do something special for. View the volunteer opportunities through Franklin County Area Agency on Aging, or contact a retirement community in your neighborhood to inquire about their volunteer needs.
Shore up mental health services. Reach out to the Mental Health Association of Franklin/Fulton Counties to learn about volunteer opportunities. You could get involved on a committee advocating for mental health, serve on the coalition for suicide prevention, be trained for peer-to-peer support, and more. Or get trained to staff a free 24/7 national crisis intervention and counseling service conducted exclusively through SMS text. Volunteers are screened and complete self-paced training, afterwards staffing shifts on a regular basis.
Support local food pantries. Food insecurity is one of the major basic needs impacted by VODI-19 in our community. You can help the increase in need by volunteering to organize, hand out, or deliver food to families. Check out our volunteer page for some of the current item donation and volunteer needs. You can also reach out to local pantries and churches in your neighborhood to ask how you can help.
Save lives by volunteering for vaccine and other health research. To learn about future COVID-19 study opportunities offered through the National Institutes of Health, subscribe to a mailing list or check out clinical trials in your area.
And if these ideas aren’t enough to get you going, consider this: volunteering makes us happier. A recent report published by the Journal of Happiness Studies found that people who had volunteered in the past year were more satisfied and rated their overall health as better compared to people who didn’t volunteer. People who volunteered at least once a month reported better mental health than participants who volunteered infrequently or not at all.
As COVID-19 continues to affect every country and many communities across the globe, United Way calls on willing volunteers to contribute where they can. Don’t wait. Search our volunteer page today to find where you can volunteer in Franklin County to protect the health of others – and your own.