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Aging & Society

Volunteer Spotlight: Opportunities in Healthcare and Well-Being

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It may lower the risk of depression, improve life satisfaction, reduce stress levels, strengthen existing relationships, and build new ones.

It may even help you live longer.

What may provide these potential health benefits you ask?

Volunteering.

And while volunteering is giving your health a powerful boost, why not help improve the health of others? Volunteer opportunities in the area of wellness abound, whatever your schedule, mobility, talents or interests.

Here are just a few ways to pitch in:

Give a lift to someone going through an intense treatment regimen.

For patients, who can’t drive themselves and don’t have other affordable transportation options, simply getting to treatment appointments can be a challenge and a source of stress. Volunteers in the American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery transportation-assistance program, donate their time to give patients a ride to and from health appointments. Access to a safe reliable vehicle, a good driving record, a current driver’s license and adequate auto insurance are required. From there, the training takes about 90 minutes.

Comfort the bereaved.

If you’ve ever been comforted by a compassionate phone call or note after the loss of a loved one, you might want to offer that same solace to others. Many hospices are looking for volunteers who can assist in the grief process by calling family members and friends to offer emotional support after the passing of a patient. Calls can often be made from your own home and you’ll be given training and a simple script to follow.

Partner with your dog to offer canine therapy.

Licks, kisses and a wagging tail are sometimes just what the doctor ordered. If you have an affectionate, friendly and obedient pup and you’re willing to go through training alongside him or her, you can become certified to become a volunteer therapy animal team and begin visiting hospitals, assisted-living facilities and rehab centers to offer some furry love. Find out more about what’s involved at Pet Partners, an organization that provides training and registration for animal-assisted therapy.

Be a Volunteer Grandma or Grandpa.

From cuddling newborns to reading a bedtime story to a child or doing an arts project bedside or in the activity room, there are lots of ways to shower little ones with love and attention during their stay in a hospital (and provide some much-needed time off for their parents). Check with your local hospital, particularly children’s hospitals, on their volunteer positions. Be prepared to be patient. Working with newborns and young children are highly desired volunteer opportunities; you might need to get your name on a waiting list for future openings.

Help Brighten Someone’s Vision.

Mobile eye clinics provide free eye care services to underserved communities. Volunteers are often needed for tasks like registration; assisting technicians and helping people pick out eye frames. Check out Kids Vision for Life for volunteer opportunities at their vision screenings and clinics or search online for upcoming eye clinics and fairs in your city.

Share Your Love of Healthy Cooking.

Cooking Matters helps teach families how to shop for and cook healthy meals on a budget. Part of the No Kid Hungry national campaign to end childhood hunger, the nonprofit organization is looking for a wide range of volunteers, from chefs and nutrition experts to teach classes, assistants to provide a helping hand, and tour leaders to offer tutorials on how to shop for healthy ingredients at grocery stores. (Bonus: The Cooking Matters website also has a wide range of resources, including videos from instructors, to improve your own healthy cooking knowledge and skills.)

For more health-minded volunteering options check out nonprofit groups such as,  Volunteer MatchPoints of Light and Corporation for National & Community Service.

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