Let’s volunteer more in 2014

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: December 29 2013 | 12:01 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 1:22 am in
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By Sue Driscoll

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You may have made New Year’s resolutions these past few days. Many of us make commitments to eat better, exercise more or improve our health. Before February, many of us already have given up on those resolutions.

I hope you succeed with eating healthier and exercising, and I have an additional idea on how to improve your health. We can all commit to feeling good about ourselves and being healthy by choosing to volunteer to help others.

According to the UnitedHealth Group “Doing Good is Good For You” report from the 2013 Health and Volunteer Study (released in April 2013), volunteering helps people manage their stress better, feel a sense of purpose and makes them feel physically healthier. There is also strong connection between volunteering and good mental/emotional health.

If you plan to improve your life (and the lives of others) in 2014, I encourage you to commit to volunteering.

Finding opportunities

First, choose volunteer activities wisely:

l Determine what you want to get out of volunteering. Are you looking to learn a new skill? Do you enjoy socializing with others? Or are you interested in gaining leadership or project management experience? Consider what you would like to receive in return for volunteering.

l Find what you are passionate about or enjoy doing. This will help you continue to volunteer.

l Recruit a friend, co-workers or your family to join you. It will make volunteering more enjoyable and something you look forward to.

We all live busy lives and try to squeeze more activities into less time, but I think we would be happier and feel better about ourselves if we set aside one hour a week to help someone else. Maybe your interest is delivering a meal to a homebound senior, helping low-income individuals with their taxes, reading to a child, teaching adults English, mentoring a child or connect to whatever you are passionate about.

Start looking for volunteer opportunities on UWECI.org/VolunteerNow. This is your one-stop shop for volunteering. The site features more than 200 local volunteer opportunities. Download our volunteer app for iPhones and your computer at UWECI.org/app.

In 2014, United Way turns 100 years old in Cedar Rapids and why not make it the year for us to make significant strides in improving our health. A good place to start is by volunteering. I encourage you to commit to one hour a week to improving your health by signing up to volunteer. Volunteering will make a difference in your life and also the life of many others in our community.

Sue Driscoll is United Way of East Central Iowa’s Manager of Volunteer Engagement. Comments: sdriscoll@uweci.org or (319) 398-5372 ext. 22.

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