Austin has pulse for volunteeringPublished 10:41am Wednesday, August 7, 2013
By Sandy Anderson, Community Health & Wellness Coordinator
Volunteering is an essential part of any healthy community with the benefits going far beyond getting projects completed for an organization. Exploring how volunteering improves the health of those citizens giving of their time, energy and resources is one focus of Mower Refreshed.
Reports and research continually reinforce that volunteering can increase self-confidence, social networks, a sense of gratitude and purpose — all helping to combat depression, isolation and even heart disease. This is a prescription to wellness worth considering adding to your life routine.
We joke that with Mower Refreshed volunteers we promise to “not take their pulse.” Most of us have experience getting involved with a group and feeling if you have a pulse, you’re free game for loads of projects, and lifetime commitment is assumed.
Successful volunteering that actually provides health benefits, is based on a positive approach that takes the time to match passion to the project and explore realistic engagement based on current commitments.
Another key to successful volunteering is encouraging citizens to consider the value of life experiences they bring to the table. Those experiences, the joyful and difficult ones, equip us to serve others with empathy and understanding. It’s those very life experiences that often fuel our passion to improve life circumstances for others around us. Here are some tips to consider when volunteering:
Tap into personal passion
• Take time to list life experiences/education that influence interests and skills.
• Consider what you enjoy doing in your spare time.
• Remember: It’s the simple skills that may be just what is needed for a group.
Connect with efforts that speak to your passion
• Network with folks to get ideas of opportunities and organizations that match your passion.
• Talk to people who are currently volunteering with a group you are considering.
• Gather information about the organization’s focus, and consider if it matches your personal or professional interests. Matching your passion will increase the likelihood that you will enjoy the time volunteering and have a positive influence on those you work with and the organization.
• Do you enjoy meetings, hands-on work, connecting with people or working alone?
Respect personal margins
What time commitment is realistic and healthy for your life cycle? One-time events, long-term commitment, short-term project or group? Respecting your life cycle (small children at home, high school or college student, full time job, teens at home with many activities, retired) will make your volunteering experience positive for you and your family and not a source of stress.
It’s more than your pulse that is needed; we need your passion, wisdom and skills. We have countless organizations in our county ready to engage volunteers to make our communities better and move them toward improved health and wellness. Consider organizations like your local schools, United Way of Mower County, Parenting Resource Center, Mower County Mentoring, Mayo Clinic Health System, Habitat for Humanity, Crime Victim Resource Center, Humane Society, faith communities, food shelves, and the list goes on.
Don’t know where to begin? Contact Mower Refreshed www.MowerRefreshed.org to jumpstart your adventure, consider your passion and fill a new prescription to benefit your health and the wellness of others!