The Journey to a Healthier You series continues this quarter with a look at vocational wellness. We last examined vocational wellness in our August 2016 issue of Lifelines, and defined it as the ability to achieve personal satisfaction and fulfillment from our work, maintain balance in our lives and make a positive impact within the organizations where we work and the communities where we live. Vocational wellness can be pursued and achieved through both paid and unpaid work; this month we focus on volunteer work.
When you volunteer, you donate your skills, time and talents to help those around you. It could be in your own community or a neighboring community, helping out a close family member, someone you just met or someone you may never come in contact with. Each and every one of us has strengths that can go towards helping those in need.
Questions to ask yourself as you explore volunteer opportunities include:
- Is there a specific cause or issue that is important to you?
- Is there a specific skill you want to use?
- What activities interest you?
- How much time can you commit?
Here are a few suggestions to consider in your search for volunteer opportunities that are a good fit for your interests, skill set and availability.
Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria left behind a need for money and resources for those displaced by these devastating natural disasters. This need also offers a teachable moment to get teens and other youth to recognize that the world is much larger than the seemingly small bubble their lives take place in. If you are looking to donate financial resources, check out our article in last month’s Lifelines to make sure your help gets to hurricane victims.
Volunteer Match. Volunteer Match is a nationwide organization that connects people with causes they believe in and are available to help out with. You can find non-profit organizations that are accepting volunteers by searching geographically or by selecting from a list of categories. Volunteer opportunities range from arts and culture to recreation and faith-based efforts to working with specific groups such as children and youth, seniors, LGBT communities or people with disabilities – the possibilities are truly endless.
Red Cross. Did you know that volunteers carry out 90% of the humanitarian work of the Red Cross? Red Cross volunteers help families affected by natural disasters, provide care and comfort to members of the military and assist with teaching members of the community how to best respond in case of an emergency. Go to www.redcross.org and click on Volunteer to see what opportunities exist within the Red Cross near you.
Habitat for Humanity. Another option is putting your construction skills to use in your community with Habitat for Humanity. A variety of volunteer opportunities are available within this organization – from helping to build and repair homes in your own community to traveling to areas that have been devastated by natural disasters. Habitat for Humanity also allows you to volunteer by yourself or with a group.
Best Friends. The mission of the Best Friends organization is to end pet homelessness and work towards creating a better world through kindness to animals. Volunteer opportunities with Best Friends are available at their animal sanctuary in Utah, which houses over 1,500 animals, or at their regional sites and with community network partners across the country.
No matter the group of people you want to work with or the cause that you want to work towards, whether you are donating your time, money, goods or services, those on the receiving end of your good deeds will always be grateful that you took time out of your day to focus on them.
[Emily Smith is the Health Promotion Division’s Senior Benefit & Wellness Specialist.]