With non-profit and charitable organizations tackling some of the world’s biggest problems, it is vital to remember that volunteers are making a huge difference! Getting involved can include activities like attending community events, providing care and support, fund raising, helping with tasks and so much more.
National Volunteer Month is here to raise awareness about the important part that volunteers play in the world, while encouraging more people to become part of the story and also part of the solution by building stronger, more vibrant communities through volunteerism.
History of National Volunteer Month
The roots of National Volunteer Month can be traced back to 1943 in Canada. As it took place during World War II, the original idea was to show appreciation for and honor the women who volunteered and assisted soldiers during and after their service in the war.
Although the war ended a few years later, the need for volunteers on a local and global scale did not. By 1974, the United States got on board with the idea, originally with the implementation of National Volunteer Week, which eventually morphed into the month-long celebration that it is now. By 1991, US President George HW Bush declared National Volunteer Month to be an official celebration. Now, decades later, the event continues to work toward reaching people where they are by meeting needs and connecting the community with volunteers.
How to Celebrate National Volunteer Month
Coming out of winter and moving into spring is a great time to think about becoming more active in the local community and around the world. Consider some of these ideas for implementing plans to observe and celebrate National Volunteer Month:
Sign Up to Volunteer
Obviously, the purpose and hope for National Volunteer Month is that it will encourage people to reach a bit outside of themselves and consider the ways that they can be of help or service to others who might be in need. Donated time is a critical way that many non-profit organizations are able to do the work they do on a larger scale, without needing a huge payroll.
The most helpful types of volunteers are the ones who can be relied upon to serve on a regular basis, whether weekly or monthly. Consider helping out at an animal shelter, supporting a local homeless shelter, signing up to tutor some kids, training for a suicide prevention hotline, or make use of some other skills that are needed.
Learn About Benefits for Volunteers
Many people volunteer because they want to help other people in their community but, as it turns out, there are also a number of benefits that arise for the people who do the volunteering. In celebration of National Volunteer Month, consider research that has shown some of these benefits of volunteering:
Lower Blood Pressure
People over the age of 50 who volunteer are less likely to develop high blood pressure, which can be an indicator of heart disease, stroke and more.
Improved Mental Health
Helping others can be a huge serotonin boost that can make the volunteers feel better about themselves.
Feel More Connected
Folks who volunteer their time feel more involved with and connected in their community, battling against isolation.
In one study, those who volunteer for truly altruistic reasons (and not for their own benefit) were likely to live a longer and fuller life.