Volunteer and Live Longer

Many of my fellow guides at the Winnipeg Art Gallery were volunteers. I started out there as a volunteer too for a number of years before I became an employee.

A University of Harvard study of 13,000 American adults found that people over the age of 50, who volunteer for two hours a week have a substantially reduced risk of dying or getting sick. Their mental health is also better. Volunteers feel less hopeless, depressed, and lonely.

My Dad was a volunteer at the Mennonite Heritage Village Museum in Steinbach during his retirement

An ever-increasing body of research is linking altruism to longevity and quality of life. Dr. Eric Kim one of the authors of the Harvard study says even during the pandemic we should try to find ways however small to contribute to the healing of others and the quality of life in our communities while continuing to follow health guidelines. Once the COVID-19 crisis is over we need to establish even more structures within communities that help people to volunteer.

Jimmy Carter building a Habitat for Humanity House – photo Mark Humphrey

Former American President Jimmy Carter is a great example of this. At age 96 he still volunteers his time annually to help build houses for Habitat for Humanity. He and his wife Roslyn have helped build and repair nearly 5000 homes in 14 different countries. Carter says that throughout his life he has seen the difference volunteering can make.

A plaque at Grace Mennonite Church in Steinbach pays tribute to the volunteer work my mother did to support young children and their parents

The Harvard study shows that by volunteering we are not only helping others we are really doing ourselves a favor too.

Before the pandemic, my husband Dave was a regular volunteer at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival

Although there were times during the pandemic we couldn’t volunteer at all my husband Dave and I have been able to restart some of our volunteer commitments. He supports a service program at our church that brings in young people from other countries to do humanitarian work in Winnipeg and I volunteer at a Thrift Shop.

I know that being able to volunteer once again has certainly improved our mental and physical health. The pandemic has helped to make us even more aware that volunteering is good for us.

I volunteer at an MCC Thrift store with women from my church. My usual job is sorting, packaging, and pricing Christmas items that are donated. Profits from the store go to support service projects around the world.

Other posts…….

A Dedicated Fringe Volunteer

Look What I Found!

A Fine Balance

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