“There is incredible value in being of service to others.” – Elizabeth Berg
Volunteer to do some work in the community at home or abroad. Of course those you help will benefit. But did you know that you get some good out of doing it as well?
A recent study in Ireland found those who do volunteer work learn new job skills. And increase their level of self-esteem. While a study in Canada finds their health improves.
The subject of the Irish survey was white-collar workers. Who did volunteer to work in shanty towns, war zones and famine hit areas around the world. It was a turning point in their lives. They learnt better leadership skills, team working skills and were able to do their job better as a result.
The volunteer both gives and takes
They found that the help they gave poor countries in health, education and job creation made a great difference. And the volunteers picked up new skills and confidence. Olive Fives from Cork worked in a village near Calcutta, India for a year. “It gave me a lot of time to think. So I came back with a much clearer idea of what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. As well as working in my business I’m doing a PhD.”
Mary Knox a retired teacher worked in Cambodia for two years. “Slates and chalk and paper and crayons were new to them. Up to that they had to just sit quietly in class. Laughter comes easy to them. And it was heart warming to see them enjoy the old playground games like ‘What’s the time Mr. Wolf?’
The volunteer can also get a health benefit
The subjects in the Canadian study were 53 high school children. Who did volunteer work. Of an hour a week working on a local after-school programme.
The aim of the research was to find out if volunteer work was good for the heart. Since the first signs of heart disease appear during adolescence. The young students in the study were ideal subjects. So they read their body mass index. And tested them for inflammation and cholesterol.
They compared these test results with those of 53 students who had not done volunteer work. The volunteers got much better results. Which shows the volunteer work was good for their hearts.
They had a look at the subjects’ self-esteem, mental health, mood and empathy. And they found those who scored highest in empathy and mental health also did best in the heart tests. In line with previous studies that show how stress, depression and well-being have a role in heart disease.
Did you know that you can now work as a volunteer online? If you can get to use the internet. Then you can use your skills online. To help people in any country of the world. From your own home. On your computer.
The UN are looking for online volunteers. They invite you to change the world. On the internet. Make a difference. To share your skills. Your knowledge and ideas. From a computer near you.
Examples of e-volunteering work: Translation. Research. Create web pages. Edit or write proposals. Press releases. Newspaper articles. Develop material for a curriculum. Design a database. Design graphics. Scan documents. Legal, business, medical, agricultural and other expertise. Counsel people. Tutor or mentor students. Moderate online discussion groups. Write songs. Create a podcast. Edit a video. Monitor the news. Answer questions. Tag photos and files. Manage other online volunteers.