Volunteer — it’s good for you

Joan Butler
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Volunteer Week is the one time each year that is devoted exclusively to recognizing and celebrating the people who work to enrich the lives of others. 

More than 50 per cent of those of older than 15 volunteer, and most give four or five weeks a year. Statistics Canada learned this and much more about our volunteers in a 2010 study on the impact and importance of the volunteer sector.  

Whether it is going door-to-door for a national charity or serving on a board of directors of a sports or a community-based enterprise, volunteers enjoy many benefits.

Volunteers get to meet new people, gain skills and experience, and get satisfaction from being a part of their community.

The benefits of volunteering also extend into the health realm, and so it’s fitting that the theme of this year’s Volunteer Week in Newfoundland and Labrador is “…for the health of it!”

The special week started on Sunday and is being celebrated throughout the province and the rest of the country.  

We are celebrating here in Conception Bay South where, as in other communities, we rely on hundreds of volunteers for all sorts of programs and services.

There is a recognition celebration this evening and the town’s youth volunteer of the year will be announced.

As for the health benefits of volunteering, there is emerging research on just how important volunteering is to our well-being.

Not only does volunteering result in the creation and maintenance of healthy communities, but there’s a new focus on the individual health benefits of being a volunteer.  

Yes, volunteering is good for your health.

One study by a U.S. federal agency, Corporation for National and Community Service, found that there is a definite connection between health and volunteering and that people who volunteer have lower death rates.  

Some of the specific benefits which are now being promoted by our provincial Volunteer Week committee and discussed during this week address some everyday issues faced by many people.  

Volunteering can help lower blood pressure, lower rates of heart disease, contribute to better physical mobility and help reduce the risk of stress-related illnesses. And there’s more, such as decreased stress, lower rates of depression, greater sense of purpose and community and, of course, increased social support which can benefit everyone.

Dr. Andrew Furey, a St. John’s orthopedic surgeon and founder and co-chair of Team Broken Earth, is the honorary chair of our province’s Volunteer Week organized by the Community Sector Council of NL.  

Dr. Furey is doing his part to promote the social and physical benefits of volunteering when he attends various events this week, just a few days after his return from another trip to Haiti with Team Broken Earth.

The health benefits of volunteering may be news for some who don’t really think of the benefits, only that volunteering has a positive impact on their lives and those of others.

Whatever the reason for their involvement, C.B.S. is fortunate to have so many people who give to their community and provide valuable services and programs.

A hoppin’ good time

Topsail United Church Men’s Club annual breakfast with the Easter Bunny will take place on Saturday, April 12 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. The cost of the breakfast, which features their usual great menu, is $7 for adults and $3 for children younger than 12.  There will be a variety of fun activities for the children.

Joan Butler is a lifelong resident

of Kelligrews, Conception Bay South.

She can be reached by email

at joanbutler@ymail.com.

Organizations: Statistics Canada, Corporation for National and Community Service, Volunteer Week committee Community Sector Council of NL United Church

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Conception Bay South, U.S. Haiti

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