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Day of Action: Spotlight on the Benefits of Volunteering

Each year on and around June 21, communities around the world come together to harness the volunteer spirit and improve the conditions in which they live.

This year, thousands of people in more than 240 communities—from Macon, Georgia to Mumbai, India—committed their time and their passion to creating long-lasting solutions that benefit everyone on this year’s Day of Action.

Each United Way focuses on the particular aspirations and challenges of the community they serve. And yet there are many issues that transcend the borders between town, cities or even nations.

On Thursday, we took a look at some of the many communities that made early literacy the focus of their Day of Action, and on Monday we highlighted communities that took action on the issue of hunger. Today, we look at the act of volunteering itself—and the benefits it has not just for the communities served, but for the volunteers themselves.

 

United Way Chile

For many of these people who brought brushes and ladders to a local kindergarten in Chile, Day of Action is just one day of a year-round volunteer lifestyle.

They thought they were just improving learning conditions for the next generation; little did they know they were also doing wonders for their own health. A report by UnitedHealth Group found that 76% of US adults who volunteer report that volunteering has made them feel physically healthier, and 78% report that volunteering lowers their levels of stress.

 

United Way of Dutchess-Orange Region

VIDEO: Meet-N-Clean encourages community to 'take ownership' in Poughkeepsie

And how about these volunteers in Poughkeepsie, New York who rallied to pick up litter on Main Street…?

We’ll let them in on a little secret: in addition to keeping their community beautiful, they were also contributing to their own long-term psychological well-being. According to a study by the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences, volunteering can also have a positive impact on happiness, depression, cognitive functioning, feelings of social support and life satisfaction.

 

United Way of the Midlands

Now consider these hard workers from Columbia, South Carolina who spent Day of Action tending to their local community garden…

Would you believe volunteer efforts like this actually increase a person’s chances of getting a job by 27 percent? That’s the conclusion of research conducted by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). In other words, not only were the good people of Columbia planting seeds for new crops, but they were also planting the seeds for their own future success (see how we did that?).

 

Depend

One of United Way’s major corporate partners, Depend, is dedicated to promoting volunteering as part of an active, healthy and independent lifestyle.

On Day of Action, their support helped United Way impact the lives of more than 310,000 people through the tireless efforts of more than 5,000 volunteers engaged in more than 30 projects across 17 cities—places like Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

Depend’s commitment to lasting community change goes beyond Day of Action. They have engaged United Way in a three-year partnership, and their passion for volunteering has us all excited about the new and exciting projects yet to come.