It’s National Volunteer Week – 20th to 26th May! National Volunteer Week is an annual celebration which acknowledges the generous contribution of our 6 million formal volunteers in Australia; 3.3 million of whom support charities, and who spend over 700 million hours volunteering every year. This year’s theme is “Making a world of difference”.
Hawthorn Community Chest (HCC) was established by a voluntary committee in 1958 and 61 years on our committee continues to be staffed wholly by volunteers from across our local community: Andrew Tait, Sarah Curtis, Jo Rush, Dean Ardern, Lisa Fletcher, David Gorton, Jane Nathan, Terry Pacini, Tony McHarg, Kia Sadler, Sandy Blackburn, Tricia Maclean, Chris Kendall, David Bonnett and Claudia Haeger. All of our volunteer committee have busy careers and families and can only volunteer with HCC due to the support of their spouses and partners. Our three Patrons: the Hon Josh Frydenberg MP, Mrs Lesley Gillespie OAM and Mr John Pesutto are also volunteers, and generously provide their time, advice and support to assist HCC in helping those in need in our local community.
The University of Sydney has identified seven surprising benefits from volunteering:
- Open the door to life satisfaction: satisfaction with life is at least partially dependent on living a life with purpose and meaning and volunteering provides both of these things in spades.
- You’ll feel happier: people who “give” – either money or their time – have been reported to be happier and healthier than those that don’t.
- Volunteering also keeps you in a positive mood and can help lift you out of a negative mood.
- It will make you feel healthier: helping others is also related to improved physical health, including weight control, lower blood pressure and relief from depression and chronic pain.
- You’ll get a “helpers high”: helping others triggers the reward pathway in your brain known as the mesolimbic system. It releases “feel good” neurotransmitters such as oxytocin and vasopressin.
- Feel a sense of belonging: volunteering is a great way to promote strong social networks. This is because of what’s called “prosocial behaviour”, which means that what we are doing benefits other people – helping, sharing, donating and volunteering.
- You can catch feel-good emotions: when two people catch ‘emotional contagion’ they match up emotionally. If a person is feeling positive and enjoying the process of giving, then this spreads across to other people nearby who become significantly more likely to give as well.
- Embrace your passions: to get the full benefits of volunteering, the trick is to get involved in something you’re passionate about.
So go, get out there and find something you’re passionate about and feel better knowing that you’ve helped others.
If you are interested in volunteering with HCC we’d love to hear from you! Please email your details through to email@example.com