Aging Well Partners
- Sep 07
- 3 min
FEED YOUR SOUL WHILE FEEDING OTHERS
- FOR OTHERS AND FOR YOURSELF
My daughter and I volunteer on a regular basis in our community. This week we had our first shift with a new philanthropy we were trying out, where donated fresh fruits and veggies are boxed up, and then delivered to about 600 families in the community who are food insecure. These families are lacking reliable access to enough affordable and nutritious food. Essentially the working poor. No doubt a fantastic and important local organization, but often I feel I get more out of volunteering my time than what I’m contributing to the group.
SLOW OUT OF THE GATE
Our shift started at 4pm, and both my daughter and I weren’t exactly fired up to go work in a hot warehouse for two hours assembling hundreds of boxes, although we do have an affinity for food philanthropies. I was cutting my busy workday short, and she was coming directly from a long day of school. This is often how our volunteer shifts start. We arrive tired, or sleepy, a bit underwhelmed to take time out of our day but then something magical occurs. We get inspired!
We inevitability meet new people who are also giving their time to worthwhile causes. Our cast includes the amazing CVO (Chief Volunteer Organizer) and then the veteran superstar volunteer. This is usually an adult over the age of 65 who shows up just about every day and has the lay-of-the-land down to a science.
Today’s super star was Elaine. She was a grandma of several and her grandson had just graduated. She immediately started chatting-up my daughter and me about his college plans, why she loves this organization, what’s the best way to assemble the cardboard boxes and stack them (five across and yes, the boxes will fit). She’s got the tips, the experience, the great stories of life and why this organization is so valuable. Her outlook is amazing, exudes vigorous health, and Elaine has a big smile and loads of kindness just waiting to be shared. She sets the mood and in no time, we’re rocking out to the loud classic rock our CVO has graciously put on while we build boxes, add luscious fresh veggies to cartons, and realize today we helped feed 200 people. Definitely a feel-good moment for sure.
Here are some great health benefits that volunteering offers:
- 1. Ends loneliness. Loneliness is epidemic today and it’s estimated that about 45 percent of people in the U.S. admit to feeling lonely. Volunteering increases socializing and social interaction, which improves both mental and physical health.
2. Builds strong bonds between friends, family, and coworkers. My daughter and I are in our sixth year of volunteering, and what often starts off as “blah, I don’t want to be here” turns into some really great quality time that we’ll both cherish for years to come.
3. Combats and fights depression, PTSD, and low self-esteem. Having a purpose and creating connections is key to managing and developing emotional stability.
4. Promotes longevity and reduces the risk of cognitive decline. Seasoned volunteers live longer, experience less disease, and have better overall health.
5. Purpose! No secret what the benefits of purpose do for our lives, and volunteering is just plain fun. As we worked together to prep our boxes of fruits and vegetables, I could see we all felt a real sense of purpose and accomplishment. Combined with the all the exercise of lifting boxes, carrying crates of veggies, and a super-scrub-down of the warehouse at the end, I think we all experienced a nice release of dopamine that only added to our well-being. I certainly felt the stress of the day just melt away.
As we wrapped up, we took a few pictures, exchanged phone numbers with our new friends, and departed uplifted and happy. Pretty good day I’d say. I hope you give yourself the gift of volunteering in your community soon. Here’s to Aging Well!
Jacqui Clark is a Certified Senior Advisor™ (CSA™), consultant with Living Coastal Senior Resources, and co-founder of Aging Well Partners. She is an industry leading living-and-aging well expert, and a respected communications specialist. She’s lived in San Diego for 35 years, much of that in Carlsbad where she and her husband live with their two daughters. Find Jacqui at www.agingwellpartners.com