Volunteerism: Informality or More?
If you are reading this, my guess is that you are a volunteer. I would venture that in the past seven days you have done something to help someone in your neighborhood, your church, your workplace or just out on the street. You may have held the door for a stranger, thrown the ball back over the fence for the kids next door, given someone directions to a local hot spot or placed a donation on your driveway for collection. These are small, informal volunteer activities. But these small acts bind communities together.
So, what happens when you formally volunteer? You invest even more deeply in your community. IFCS volunteers numbered 2,012 in the year 2015. These 2,012 volunteers contributed nearly 7,300 hours of service. According to the Independent Sector, the foremost leadership network for global charitable and philanthropic organizations, the dollar value of this contribution is over $189,000. But is this the best measure of volunteer value? Maybe the best values of volunteering are those experienced by the individual volunteer. Research shows that volunteers report lower rates of depression, a higher sense of well-being, fewer physical limitations and lower mortality rates. As an IFCS volunteer, you build camaraderie and teamwork with other volunteers, organizational leadership and staff members as we work toward common goals such as alleviating food insecurity. This sense of belonging increases feelings of optimism strengthening one’s immune system. IFCS volunteers also invest in their community and the people who live in it, uniting diverse backgrounds fostering empathy and self-efficacy. These experiences reduce isolation and increase one’s sense of life’s purpose.
Volunteerism can be part of the healthy lifestyle we all try to ascertain. A study by Experience Corp indicated that volunteers reported a higher level of sustained physical activity over a three-year period than did those who did not volunteer. Therefore, although there is tremendous value to the IFCS organization from our dedicated, skilled and compassionate volunteers, the real value of volunteering is experienced by each of these amazing people individually. We already know that you are an informal volunteer. Now, consider the positive impact that you can make, on both yourself and your community, if you become a more formal volunteer. Whether you have just a few hours a month or a few hours each week, IFCS encourages you to join our volunteer family. You will live longer, live better and live a much fuller and more enriched life.
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