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Volunteer to make your community healthier, happier and more connected this holiday season

Author: ASPR/OPP Division of Policy and Strategic Planning
Published Date: 11/18/2016 11:03:00 AM
Category: Public Health Preparedness;

With holidays like Thanksgiving fast approaching, many people will have the opportunity to reconnect with loved ones and build new ties with other members of their community. Volunteering is a great way to make new friends and help your community become healthier.

Communities that are more connected – the ones where people know each other and care about them – are healthier. When people know each other, they are better able to look out for the people around them, to know who needs a little more help, and to care enough to provide that help. These connections help keep communities healthier during disasters and every day.

Volunteering is a great way to help you connect with your community and help the people who really need it. Remember, the holidays are really hard for some people, especially the elderly, disabled, or homeless. Many of these people can’t get out and join the community or they may not feel like they have much to celebrate. By volunteering with community organizations, you can bring some much needed cheer and help them become healthier. When the most vulnerable people in our communities become healthier, so does the community as a whole.

Volunteering is also a good way for you to celebrate the holidays. It is a great way to get to know new people and make lasting friendships. By getting out of your everyday routine and trying something new with people who care about others, you can make friends with some really great people – some whom you never would have met otherwise.

Did you know that volunteering and connecting with your community is good for you too? Research shows that people with more social ties within their communities often have lower blood pressure rates, better immune systems, and lower stress levels. Volunteering often gives people a sense of accomplishment and it can even lead to lower rates of depression. Volunteering can be an important part of a happier, healthier lifestyle.

So what can you do in your community to help your community become healthier?

Get together with your family, friends, or neighbors and use some of the following ideas to start strengthen your community:

  • Contact local hospitals and health clinics in your community to ask about what volunteer opportunities may be available, especially around the holidays. You can see firsthand what challenges members of your community may face and help address them.
  • Work with community- or faith-based organizations in your area that help isolated senior citizens or disabled residents so you can spend quality time getting to know others within your community.
  • Volunteer with nonprofit groups that work to deliver meals to residents in need or help serve Thanksgiving dinner at your local shelter or soup kitchen so you can get to know those members of your community who are more at-risk.
  • Contact local hospitals and health clinics in your community to ask about what volunteer opportunities may be available, especially around the holidays. You can see firsthand what challenges members of your community may face and help address them.

Through these actions, you can make your community more connected, and as a result, healthier and stronger. In addition to volunteer efforts, social activities like joining your children’s PTA, organizing a community block party or fall festival, or attending faith-based gatherings are all great ways to build connections in your community and help your community have a happier, healthier holiday season.

So get out there and meet one another! Your community—and your health—will thank you for it.


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