Volunteering at Our Big Kitchen – with Best Buddies

Kahlil Gibran: “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”
You would expect that I would write a blog at this time of year about the importance of giving – Christmas is everywhere, especially at RedBalloon. However here’s a thought: One of the greatest gifts you can give is your time – and when you do – you will experience a euphoria, which is very good for your own well-being.
Basically when you give – you get… This has long been document as part of the five elements of well-being outlined by the New Economic Forum; but here are some statistics that I just discovered: A 2006 report found that adult Australians who volunteer has increased from 24 percent in 1995 to 58 percent. Being a volunteer is incredibly good for your health (as well as the recipient). It has been referred to as ‘the helpers high’ – which is the sense of satisfaction and comfort that is created from knowing that you have done something to assist another human being.
Professor Stephen G Post tells us “focusing on others causes a shift from our unhealthy preoccupation with ourselves and reduces the stress-related wear and tear on our body and soul.”
Giving doesn’t need to be extravagant or formal – but it does need to be regular to have ongoing benefits to your well-being. A simple visit to the local retirement home for a game of scrabble, or reading in a class room at the local pre-school all work all would do the trick.
Here’s some facts:

  • Regular volunteers will live longer
  • Volunteers are less likely to experience depression, and they are more satisfied with life
  • People who spend on others are happier – than when they spend it on themselves.

So perhaps this year you could put on your Christmas wish list – “half a day every month to volunteer in my community” – and you will be the better for it.
As Winston Churchill famously said “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

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