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By Mallory Thornton, Catholic Charities Volunteer

“It is from contemplation, from a strong friendship with the Lord that the capacity is born in us to live and to bring the love of God, his mercy, his tenderness, to others. And also our work with brothers in need, our charitable works of mercy, lead us to the Lord, because it is in the needy brother and sister that we see the Lord himself.”

Pope Francis, July 21, 2013


Why volunteer? A few of the reasons given for volunteering are a call to help others,  productively occupy time, part of a faith ministry, sense of purpose, and make a positive impact on social problems.  Most volunteers would not say the reason they give of their time and talents is to receive something in return.  However, research shows that charitable service provides both physical and mental health benefits to the person volunteering.


According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, volunteers have decreased mortality rates, greater functional ability, increased independence and lower rates of depression.   Volunteering provides physical and social activity and a sense of purpose, especially, for those whose social roles are changing.


Many people think of retiree volunteers, which is true, especially as baby boomers transition from the workforce.  Yet, when the decision to serve is noncompulsory and provides a purposeful role in a community, volunteering is beneficial for all ages, especially the chronically ill, those with disabilities, empty nesters, and stay-at-home parents.   Children who begin volunteering at a young age are instilled with the importance of volunteering; however, they may not experience the same health benefits because they may view their volunteering as obligatory.


Charitable works can fortify the social ties that protect individuals from seclusion during difficult times, while the experience of helping others leads to a sense of greater dignity and trust.  Positive social networks and connections reduce stress and risk of disease, which in turn, lowers risks of poor physical health due to positive social psychological factors.


Want to help others and increase your well-being?  Visit the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington Volunteer page today and see the wide variety of ways you can use your skills and talents.


For more information concerning the cited study please visit The Health Benefits of Volunteering.