Celebrate Service: National Volunteer Month

Did you know? April is National Volunteer Month.

VCLA_JL_OtherStates_RI_BIGWe do a lot here at United Way of Rhode Island –giving, grant-making, and more – but one of the best parts of my job is when I get to capture the story of a volunteer. Volunteers have a heart for giving and live the mantra of neighbors helping neighbors.

And, if you tell them thank you? They tend to shrug it off. No big deal, they say. It’s what anyone else would have done. Not so, volunteers, not so. You’re special, and we want to honor you!

Volunteering makes a difference for your neighbors and the community around you. But, did you know that there’s scientific proof that helping is healthy for you, too?

I won’t tell you that exercise is pointless. And that you should give up that diet right this very moment. And I won’t tell you that the only true path to health is volunteering…because that would be patently untrue and misleading.

BUT, I WILL tell you that volunteering does have some awesome benefits:

  • Social connection builds a stronger immune system.
  • The good feelings derived from being compassionate are so pleasurable that they may protect against the ravages of stress.
  • People who volunteered lived longer than their non-volunteering peers, but only if they were engaged in charitable, not self-serving, activities.

See more of the benefits of volunteering at Points of Light: “Forget Veggies! Science Shows Volunteering is Healthier.”1

This month, we’ll be talking on social media about all the great things our volunteers have done and continue to do in Rhode Island. And, we’ll be taking part in some special projects in honor of National Volunteer Week (April 10-16), too.

But, for now, to get you in that volunteering mood, let’s break down what all those of hours of service look like nation-wide:

Last year, 62.8 million Americans volunteered 7.9 billion hours. The estimated value of all that time? $184 billion2. That’s billion with a “B!”

Want to know more about National Volunteer Month? Check out our sources:

  1. The Corporation for National & Community Service has a snapshot of volunteering in 2015.
  2. Here’s the Corporation for National & Community Service’s closer look at Rhode Island.
  3. And Points of Light celebrates volunteerism all year long.