Get Healthy Carson City: Volunteering: Isn’t it about time? | NevadaAppeal.com

Get Healthy Carson City: Volunteering: Isn’t it about time?

Katherine Dew
Carson City Health and Human Resources

This column appears in the Nevada Appeal's Tuesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.

April 15-22 is National Volunteer Week! According to the Corporation for National Community Service, about 1 in 4 Americans volunteer each year providing an average of 32 hours per person per year. This comes to almost 8 billion hours of service. The estimated economic value of this donated time is more than $184 billion! While these numbers are impressive, there is still a shortage of volunteers. In Nevada, only about 19 percent, or 1 in 5 people, volunteers. Do you have time to volunteer? Before you answer that question, consider the following:

The 2017 Cross Platform Future in Focus report published by comScore revealed the average American adult spends almost three hours every day on their smartphone. This adds up to more than 20 hours a week, or enough time to have an additional part-time job! While it may be necessary for most people to use their phones to handle their personal and professional lives, could some of that time be redirected toward helping others in our community?

Research shows there are major health benefits for those who volunteer as well as for the people who receive a volunteer's help. BMC Public Health published the study Volunteering and Health Benefits in General Adults: Cumulative Effects and Forms, which found the following health outcomes for those who volunteer:

Improved mental and physical health (such as fewer depressive symptoms and lower blood pressure);

Improved social well-being (such as a decrease in loneliness and isolation); and

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Increased life satisfaction (such as greater feelings of gratitude and pleasure derived from generosity).

To help you get started on your volunteer journey, here are some tips:

Find your passion — Finding the right "fit" is important in any relationship, and that includes the organization with which you choose to volunteer. Take a moment to think about what matters most to you so it won't feel like work.

Start small — Be careful not to overcommit or you may get burned out. Start by volunteering just an hour or two a week and see how it makes you feel. The odds are, you will end up wanting to do more.

Volunteering equals opportunity — Look at volunteering as a limitless opportunity to reduce stress and increase feelings of happiness, meet new people who share your interests, learn new skills, improve your community, and break up your routine

The Founding Father of American volunteerism, Benjamin Franklin, had a philosophy that "one served not to save their soul, but to build a strong society." Volunteering still forms the core of the American character. By serving others, and serving together, we improve our relationships and become more connected to one another. Many organizations within the Carson City area are looking for volunteers. At Carson City Health and Human Services, we are seeking volunteers to serve as part of the Western Nevada Medical Reserve Corps (MRC). This group is made up of both medical and non-medical volunteers who educate fellow community members about emergency preparedness and also serve our community members during disasters. Volunteers in this group serve Carson City, Douglas, Lyon, and Storey counties. To learn more about the Medical Reserve Corps or to be connected with other organizations in our area searching for volunteers, visit http://www.volunteermatch.org.

For information about services and programs available to you through Carson City Health and Human Services, please visit our website at gethealthycarsoncity.org, follow us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/cchhs, or call us at 775-887-2190. You can also find us at 900 E. Long St. in Carson City.