5th December - International Volunteer Day: Benefits to people who help others
Benefits to people who help others
Renato Lima de Oliveira (*)
In 1985, the United Nations (UN) established 5th December as the INTERNATIONAL VOLUNTEER DAY.
Volunteers are people who help others without seeking recognition, payment, status, or political promotion. They are citizens who, encouraged by participation and solidarity, spontaneously dedicate their time, without payment for that, to social and community causes.
The benefits of helping others are well known. A study by the University of Michigan, in the United States, shows that people committed to helping others in voluntary actions reduce the risk of early death by 60%. According to the study, generosity is closely related to longevity, as self-centred people have more than twice the risk of dying earlier.
Scientific studies show that the attitude of helping those in need is also good for health, as it promotes reduced cholesterol level and hypertension and increased life expectancy.
Other international studies show great health benefits for our body: helping other people is good to our heart, our immune system (it increases the body’s natural defences), it increases life expectancy and vitality in general.
Helping others is good for the health of our body and soul, bringing several advantages. First, it gives a meaning to our lives (this pleasant effort to serve others is one of the best ways to give a meaning to life). Second, it makes us more productive in our professional activity (one person in contact with someone else’s pain tend to see his or her personal problem from another perspective).
Being a volunteer is so important that many companies seek to employ people who have performed volunteer and charitable actions. In recruitment processes, organizations prefer applicants who value social well-being by offering more quality of life and dedicating their free time to support needy people.
Participating in social actions helps people to find better jobs. Managers of Human Resources departments from large companies say that an applicant who dedicates time to help other people can be considered as someone committed to a cause, and commitment is highly expected from a candidate.
The word that best defines voluntary work is solidarity. Besides the support provided to people in need, helping others is good for the heart. When we see the problems of other people, we realize that our problems are very small, and that we shouldn’t complain so much; but thank more.
Time and willingness to serve are the only requirements for those who want to help others. It can be in a parish, a non-governmental organization, a service club, among many other possibilities. However, many people say they don’t have time to engage in a social cause.
Voluntary actions can be performed in different places, such as religious, educational, environmental, sports, health or social inclusion institutions. Just get started. We hope the International Volunteer Day encourages many people to start a solidarity action that seeks to build a better world through volunteer work. The SSVP is waiting for you!
(*) 16th President General