Have you ever felt so good after helping someone else? If so you are not alone! There are so many ways to volunteer your time and skills to help others while giving yourself the gift of self-care. Unified Caring Association (UCA) gives more than three cheers for volunteers.
Volunteering does more than we often think!
When we give our time and knowledge through volunteering we feel a ‘helper’s high’. This phrase was coined by Allen Luks. He defines this as “…the sense of euphoria that can be experienced soon after helping someone else.” (https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/why-volunteers-live-longer-science-of-kindness/?fbclid=IwAR0xw41uqf5GZK8oyRS6pKCLUzkZgliOe0GTFf0qpNnlfaCOCaDEbnskURM) During this ‘high’ there are two phases. The strongest is the first phase. This phase is characterized by an uplifting and euphoric mood. This is followed by phase two where there is a longer lasting sense of calm. This is almost like taking three big, quick breaths for the mind! What is most interesting is that “..the greatest effect (the high) was observed in helping strangers.” (https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/why-volunteers-live-longer-science-of-kindness/?fbclid=IwAR0xw41uqf5GZK8oyRS6pKCLUzkZgliOe0GTFf0qpNnlfaCOCaDEbnskURM) As when we talk about meditation and or mindfulness activities we see a reduced risk in depression. We infer that the same positive effects happen during volunteering activities as those of meditation and or grounding yourself in nature.
How else can volunteering help us?
Along with creating a healthy, caring social network “…volunteerism was associated with a markedly lower risk of dying. Depending on the study, the decrease in death rates ranged between 20 to 60%.” (https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/why-volunteers-live-longer-science-of-kindness/?fbclid=IwAR0xw41uqf5GZK8oyRS6pKCLUzkZgliOe0GTFf0qpNnlfaCOCaDEbnskURM) This lower risk of dying can be linked to how those who volunteer take care of their own personal health. Often times those who volunteer make a larger effort to take care of their well-being. An example is regular preventive care visits to their doctor.
Sharing caring through connection
When we are volunteering we are likely exerting “…its positive health effects by connecting people to others and to an activity that they find meaningful. Achieving connection, purpose, and meaning is critical to attenuating stressors of life—particularly loneliness. Since stress is a major cause of disease, especially heart disease, the ability to quench the need for connection, purpose, and meaning can bring about beneficial and salutary changes for people. And when there is [a] purpose and we are connected to others, we take care of ourselves.” (https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/why-volunteers-live-longer-science-of-kindness/?fbclid=IwAR0xw41uqf5GZK8oyRS6pKCLUzkZgliOe0GTFf0qpNnlfaCOCaDEbnskURM)
When UCA held a recent scholarship contest. One of the questions asked was in regards to if there is one thing you would change in the world, what would it be? We are still moved by one response written. This was by TiAnna Olivas. She writes, “Volunteering not only has a positive impact on the people and organization, it reshapes the way you view life as well. Volunteering provides the opportunity to meet new people, gain new experiences, and make a productive influence on the world around you…I have gained so much from my personal experiences with volunteering. I volunteer with the local pantry and the people there are so kind and have taught me so much. Volunteering with them, I have witnessed how they live an abundant life, filled with making the people around them happy. I strive to be like them, being a light in this dark world. (https://www.unifiedcaring.org/tianna-olivas/)
Unified Caring Association has suggested resources to begin, continue or expand volunteering. One resource is the National Volunteering Caregiving Alliance. Through this network members can connect to about 700 communities throughout the U.S. This network is to help provide volunteer caregivers by connecting community programs and organizations to those in need.
A second resource available for UCA members is access to The Corporation for National and Community Service. This organization plays a key role in supporting the culture of service in the U.S.A. It is here that you can find a volunteering opportunity. There are so many volunteer categories, the sky’s the limit! For example we could search for volunteer opportunities in food banks and soup kitchens, collecting clothing and items in need for the homeless, or spending time assisting the elderly.
In short, volunteering is not only helpful to those you are spending time with, but helpful in our own self-care journey as well. Let’s give many cheers for those of us that spend time volunteering. Thank you for all you do!
Would you like to know more about Unified Caring Association? Check out our blogs on UCA, Caring Action, and Caring the UCA Way! Would you like to keep up with UCA activities? Check us out on Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter for updates throughout the week!
UCA Provides Inspiration to Homeless and Trafficked Youth
The C in our C.A.R.E. program stands for children. So when we learned about the caring work Covenant House does to support homeless and trafficked youth, we knew we needed to offer our support. Our first project with Covenant House was to provide a scholarship opportunity for their northern California clients. It was a wonderful experience for both the youth and our judges! In fact, it was such a great experience, that we decided to offer another scholarship. This scholarship is for the Hollywood California Covenant House Youth – also a wonderful experience. You can read the scholarship award winning essays of from these scholarship contests here: https://www.unifiedcaring.org/covenant-house-scholarship-winners/ and https://www.unifiedcaring.org/covenant-house-hollywood-scholarship-winners/
After having become familiar with Covenant House through our scholarship program, we wanted to expand our support to their caring program by providing inspiration to their residential clients. We learned that the clients entering the program come into the program with very few possessions. Often they just have what they can carry on the streets. They are often scared, hardened or jaded by their experiences on the streets and are in desperate need of encouraging words and inspiration. Our team decided to give each client a small caring gift of inspirational daily messages to welcome them into the residential program. Decks of inspirational daily messages were sent off to Hollywood California Covenant House clients, and they were received with joy. Our warmest wishes go out to the youth of Covenant House.
High School Seniors Wake Up at 4am So They Can Shovel Neighbor’s Driveway Before Her Dialysis
Rather than sleeping in on a snow day, a group of high school students got together at 4:30 AM so they could make sure that an elderly woman could get to her dialysis appointment.
Brian and Patrick Lanigan are both students at Parsippany High School in New Jersey. They also live next to an older woman who relies on ambulance transportation to bring her to her dialysis treatments.
Brian, an EMT, shoveled his neighbor’s driveway last week in order to make way for the ambulance. The weather forecast changed and called for eight more inches of snow.
The night before the snowstorm, the brothers knew that they had to help their neighbor. Since Brian often works early in the morning, they knew they wouldn’t be able to clear the driveway before the ambulance arrived at 6 AM.
Patrick then pulled out his phone and started calling people on his contact list for help.
The next morning at 4:30AM, four of Patrick’s friends arrived with shovels in hand. Within thirty minutes, they had successfully cleared the driveway.
Patrick’s father snapped a picture of the teenage “snow angels.” He posted it to Twitter, praising the youngsters for their compassion.
It has since been shared by dozens of people, all of whom expressed their appreciation for the gesture.
Unified Caring at Empower 18
WOW! Unified Caring at Empower 18! So great! Good morning from the
#Empower18 @ASCDconf in Boston! We are so excited to be here – we LOVE caring educators! Also, our beautiful new friend Valerie just came by to model her purchase from our store! What a great smile! We’ve got lots of wonderful free gifts to show our appreciation for our friends in education! So, please stop by booth 1345, and while you’re here, check out our special buy one get one free deals on beautiful clothing! We can’t wait to show you our charity gift line! And be sure to pick up a UCA scholarship flyer to share with your students! @ASCD #charity
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