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Do Your Health a Favor and Volunteer

Every year, millions of American adults seek out volunteer opportunities to help others. What many of them find is that they receive unexpected rewards in return. Whether it is in the form of supporting others in their time of need, making new friends, or just feeling needed, the benefits of volunteering can be quite beneficial.

According to a survey conducted by United Healthcare Group Company and VolunteerMatch, 89 percent of the 4,500 Americans polled agreed that volunteering had improved their sense of well-being. 73 percent of those surveyed agreed that volunteering lowerd their stress levels, while 68 percent felt that volunteering made them feel physically healthier.

It seems that nearly anyone can benefit from helping others, regardless of the amount of time they have been retired. The key is finding a volunteer opportunity that is meaningful to you. There are thousands of places to volunteer right in your community at local little leagues, churches or places of worship, fire halls, schools, prisons, healthcare systems and other non-profit settings.

One important thing to consider when choosing a volunteer opportunity is that the pre-requisites will vary according to the type of organization you choose. For example, a church or place of worship might have a less formal process for accepting volunteers. While in the healthcare setting, the requirements to volunteer could include an application, references, health screenings, orientations, and a criminal background check.

Some organizations even require finger prints if the focus is on children or any population at high risk. For this reason, you’ll want to choose a program that is meaningful and of interest to you so that you are willing to follow through with the pre-requisites of the organization.

Another factor to consider is the various opportunities that may be available at any particular organization. For example, your local little league may have opportunities to coach, assist with coaching, or even work in a concession stand. However, the season is generally over within a few months, so make sure you consider how long a commitment you’re looking to make. There are year-round opportunities in many organizations, such as prisons or healthcare systems.

Volunteers in a non-profit hospital can hold roles anywhere from greeting patients at the front door of the hospital, to serving on the Board of Directors. Although some of these positions are applied for and others are appointed, each opportunity can have positive effects on the health and well being of the individual.

Additionally, healthcare systems can offer opportunities outside of the actual hospital such as day care, end of life care, and even thrift shops. Obviously these settings vary drastically, but that is what makes volunteering in a healthcare setting so rewarding – there are many different opportunities all with one application.
So do your health a favor and volunteer!

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Boomers Resource Guide is a special supplement to the Senior Citizen's Guide