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Volunteering for Good Health

Here are two ways to get and stay healthy: be active and volunteer. That’s right -- volunteering is closely tied to good health. A growing body of research shows an association between volunteering and mental and physical health benefits. In particular, older volunteers report lower mortality rates, lower rates of depression, fewer physical limitations, and higher levels of well-being.

With an eye on promoting good health and active lifestyles among all ages United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley rallied volunteers during National Volunteer Week 2015 to make over several exercise rooms at the YMCA Egleston Square Youth Center. The week-long project aimed to make sure that kids and adults in the Boston neighborhood have a great place to exercise.

100 United Way volunteers participated in the makeover, including three corporate groups, eight families, many Egleston community members and United Way’s Community Builders. Volunteers worked on the main fitness/aerobics room, ballet room and weight room, painting walls, installing a new floor, doors and ballet bars, and building a large storage space, four bookshelves and a shoe rack.

The volunteer project was one of 10 events sponsored by Depend, a brand of Kimberly Clark, to promote an active, healthy and independent life through volunteering. Thanks to Depend, United Way was able to purchase materials for the makeover. Gilbane Building Company also donated materials such as paint, paintbrushes, and drywall, and its volunteers were critical to planning and implementing the makeover.

The youth center serves 1,400 youth. The makeover will create a positive impact for all of these youths as well as their families and other community members of all generations. Will Morales, Executive Director of the Egleston YMCA, said that improving the rooms has been one of his dreams for years. Seeing volunteers work and care for the space was meaningful for him and for the children who use the space as well.

This is but one example of how volunteering contributes to good health – both for the volunteers and the people they serve. Check out our other blogs for more examples of how volunteering with United Way is great way to be active and to advance the common good.