President Nixon recognized the importance of volunteers when he created the first National Volunteer Week in 1974. Since then, April has become the month to remember all of the opportunities available to serve others and your community.
Choosing a healthy themed volunteer activity is particularly easy. As it turns out, any kind of volunteering has been found to be good for your health. An analysis of data from various longitudinal studies of aging established a strong relationship between volunteering and health: Those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.
Search for an opportunity to volunteer that complements areas of interest in your life. Tools like Volunteer Match, idealist.org or serve.gov make it simple to find service opportunities near you. To get you started with some extra healthy ideas, check out these Chester County opportunities you can get involved with during the month of April:
- Be a Blood Service Volunteer: You can support blood collection by greeting donors, assisting with registration, escorting donors to the canteen area, and offering refreshments, instructions and conversation. Or, donate blood at a one of these upcoming drives in Chester County or at a local American Red Cross event.
- Serve up a healthy meal: United Way of Chester County offers year-round opportunities to prepare meals for homeless shelters like Safe Harbor in West Chester. Or how about lending a hand at the West Chester Senior Center’s monthly birthday celebration lunch? In addition, Chester County food pantries are always accepting non-perishable food donations and toiletry items.
- Share a healthy harvest (or the skills to create one): The Backyard Gardens Program calls upon expert gardeners to help bring raised-bed vegetable gardens to low-income residents of Chester County in order to provide them with the supplies and skills they need to grow some of their own fresh vegetables
- Walk or run for a good cause: Your body and your heart will work together when you help participate in the United Methodist Church of West Chester’s Beat the Bug race on April 22, which purchases a mosquito net with every race entry, to be given to a family to help prevent malaria. Another opportunity to run during National Volunteer month is the Race Against Violence on April 28 which benefits the Crime Victim Center of Chester County.