by Guest Blogger: Kasey Caruthers

Life is busy. Each of us feels a pull from dozens of things big and small that vie for our attention. How can anyone add one more thing?? And maybe more importantly, why would you? I can speak from my own experience volunteering with Baltimore Hunger Project, and tell you that the hours I have spent have never been ones I’ve looked back on and missed! Taking time out of my own busyness to focus on meeting needs in my community has never felt like time wasted. Even though I won’t meet the kids that we’re helping face to face, knowing that I helped play a supporting role in bettering their lives was well worth the minor time sacrifice.

More than my personal experiences, there is a mountain of evidence supporting how volunteering is perhaps more beneficial for the volunteer than the recipient! In an article from helpguide.org, the rewards for the volunteer are plainly stated. The advantages are cemented in both mental and physical health. Volunteering as an individual or a family strengthens your ties to the community you serve and live in, while also making new friendships and broadening your network. Many of our volunteers are students who are rewarded with volunteer hours, which is wonderful for both parties!

Age is definitely not a deterrent! Studies show that our Baby Boomer volunteers are volunteering at much higher rates than those in previous generations did at the same age, and are reaping the health benefits in the process. In a study by Psychosomatic Medicine in June 2015, a group of 136,265 volunteers over the age of 50 were shown to have less risk of mortality and cardiovascular events than their peers who did not work in their community. Their ‘higher sense of purpose’ is proving to combat depression and reduce anxiety, as well as provide mental stimulation. Our older volunteers are invaluable to our work to better the lives of kids right here in Baltimore!

Life can be busy. It seems like it won’t be slowing down anytime soon, but volunteering is vital. Without you, Baltimore Hunger Project can’t continue to feed bodies and minds! And while it absolutely benefits the kids and families that receive the food packs during the school year, it may surprise you to see how much it benefits you at the same time.

If you, your family, organization, or workplace would like to volunteer with BHP, please reach out anytime at baltimorehungerproject.org

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/volunteering-and-its-surprising-benefits.htm

https://journals.lww.com/psychosomaticmedicine/Abstract/2016/02000/Purpose_in_Life_and_Its_Relationship_to_All_Cause.2.aspx

^Cohen, Randy MD, MS; Bavishi, Chirag MD, MPH; Rozanski, Alan MD

https://www.nationalservice.gov/pdf/07_0506_hbr.pdf THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF VOLUNTEERING: A REVIEW OF RECENT RESEARCH

^Robert Grimm, Jr., Director & Senior Counsel to the CEO Kimberly Spring, Policy Analyst Nathan Dietz, Research Associate and Statistician