Celebrate National Volunteer Week

— Written By and last updated by Nicole Vernon
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Want to be healthier, happier, and live longer while making our community a better place? Volunteer!

We have many volunteers who contribute their time and energy to various parts of Extension. From 4-H leaders, Extension and Community Association (ECA), NC State Extension Master Gardener Volunteers, Surry County Beekeepers Association, Extension Advisory Council and Program Committees to our Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP), we would never be able to accomplish all that we do without our wonderful volunteers. Their efforts are significant.

Although we appreciate all that our volunteers do throughout the year, National Volunteer Week is the perfect time to celebrate their many accomplishments. Thank you!

Not only is volunteering helpful to our community, it is also beneficial to our volunteers.

  • Do your brain a favor – volunteer!
    People who did volunteer work for at least one hour a week on a regular basis were 2.44 times less likely to develop dementia than the seniors who didn’t volunteer according to a 5-year study conducted by the University of Calgary. Arizona State University conducted a 14-year study and discovered people who volunteered regularly reduced their chances for developing cognitive problems by 27 percent.
  • Volunteers are happier and healthier than non-volunteers
    “The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves.” – Helen Keller
    Research published in “Psychology Today” indicates that people who volunteer remain physically functional longer, have more robust psychological well-being, and live longer. Healthy and longevity gains from volunteering come from establishing meaningful volunteer roles before you retire and continuing to volunteer during retirement.
  • Other Positive Reasons to volunteer
    1. Gain new skills
    2. Meet new people
    3. Make a difference
    4. Give back to the community
    5. Feel valued and be part of a team
    …and have fun!

Looking for ways to give back while you may be at home and have a little more time?

  1. Donate to Nonprofits
  2. Donate or Volunteer with Food Banks and Pantries – to help them stock up or volunteer at a food bank that needs help packing and sorting food using safe practices.
  3. Deliver Meals and Groceries to Senior in need – help out someone you know or contact Meals on Wheels.
  4. Help a School – check with area schools to see if they need volunteers to distribute food (or other items) to children and families in need.
  5. Give blood.
  6. Stay in Touch – check on your neighbors, friends, and family – especially those who are older or may be alone. A phone call, text, or a conversation through the door could brighten their day.
  7. Serve in Your Community – NC ECA has a face covering project. For direction go to DIY Cloth Face Coverings. Make some for you, your family and others in the community.

Sometimes I hear, “the little bit I could do wouldn’t make a difference” or “there is so much that needs to be done, I don’t know where to begin”. Find an area where you can contribute – even if it is just a small amount. Everyone doing a little can equal a lot. You will make a difference not just in someone else’s life, but in yours too. For more information about volunteer opportunities associated with Extension, contact our office at 336-401-8025.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead