by Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation
It’s hard to imagine a world without volunteers. Whether helping a friend, partaking in a litter clean-up, or hosting an event to raise money for a special need or cause, volunteers truly make the world go-round. People who volunteer, do not necessarily always have the time, but they have the heart and make time to support causes near and dear to them.
2020 National Volunteer Week, taking place April 19-25, is an opportunity to celebrate the impact of volunteer service and the power of volunteers to tackle society’s greatest challenges, to build stronger communities and be a force that transforms the world. According to HealthGuide, volunteering connects you to others, is good for your mind and body, can advance your career, and brings fun and fulfillment to your life. Did you know that volunteering provides many benefits to both mental and physical health? Volunteering can:
- Help counteract the effects of stress, anger, and anxiety through the social contact aspect of helping and working with others can have a profound effect on your overall psychological well-being. Nothing relieves stress better than a meaningful connection to another person.
- Combat depression, as it keeps you in regular contact with others and helps you develop a solid support system.
- Make you happy. By measuring hormones and brain activity, researchers have discovered that being helpful to others delivers immense pleasure. Human beings are hard-wired to give to others. The more we give, the happier we feel.
- Increase self-confidence. While doing good for others and the community, we feel a natural sense of accomplishment. Your role as a volunteer can also give you a sense of pride and identity. The better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive view of your life and future goals.
- Provide a sense of purpose. Older adults, especially those who have retired or lost a spouse, can find new meaning and direction in their lives by helping others. Whatever your age or life situation, volunteering can help take your mind off your own worries, keep you mentally stimulated, and add more zest to your life.
- Helps you stay physically healthy. Studies have found that those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate than those who do not. Older volunteers tend to walk more, find it easier to cope with everyday tasks, are less likely to develop high blood pressure, and have better thinking skills. Volunteering can also lessen symptoms of chronic pain and reduce the risk of heart disease.
In 2019 alone, close to 500 adults were trained to serve as Progressive Agriculture Safety Day coordinators who are leading the crusade. Safety Day coordinators help bring this program to the local level building safer and healthier communities in the places they live, work and play. With the support of another 20,000 local volunteers serving in various roles including planning committee members, presenters, group leaders, and other on-site logistics, our program provided age-appropriate, hands-on safety education to nearly 80,000 youth participants, between the ages of 4 and 13.
Last year, more than 121,000 hours of volunteer time was logged. This was valued at more than $3 million in support, according to the Independent Sector’s estimated value of $25.32 per hour; however, to our program, a volunteer’s time is priceless! Additionally, many of our key sponsors are promoting partnership engagement opportunities among their employees and encouraging them to volunteer.
Children tend to watch everything we do. Therefore, in the same manner we remind adults about role modeling safe and healthy behaviors, volunteering shows children the importance of giving back to the community. They see first-hand how volunteering can make a difference, how good it feels to help other people and animals, and how they can bring about positive change. Volunteering is also a valuable way to get to know organizations in the community, as well as find resources and activities that can be beneficial to your children and family.
For more information on how get involved in hosting or volunteering at Progressive Agriculture Safety Days or to locate an event near you, visit www.progressiveag.org or call 888.257.3529. You can also help send another child to a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day in 2020 with a modest donation of only $13. Donate by texting the word “SAFETYDAY” to 44321.