It's time to spread goodwill, good tidings and good cheer, since it's the holidays, after all!
A study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that people 65 years of age and older who did NOT assist friends, neighbors or relatives had a 30% higher chance of dying after a stressful event (like a job loss) than those who were generous! Another study says that volunteering can lower your risk of a heart attack or stroke. Sound crazy? I think it's sure worth a shot! To health!
As we head into 2017, perhaps you've placed on your resolution list that you want to get more involved in your community.
Community isn't literally about the neighborhood that you live in. It isn't the borders defined by your school board, or the zip code to which your mail person delivers. It's about the choices we make to step outside of our comfort zone to do a *thing* that impacts another being - whether human, four legged, or otherwise.
Community is that thing that allows us to connect to others, it's that thing that reminds us that we are all human and have an innate need to give to others. Even when it feels that our society is full of people with fingers in their ears and singing "lalalala" while they go about their day, in an insular way, community still matters and is very much at the heart of what we ALL want in our lives.
So ... how to go about finding that community? There is NO better way than to volunteer your time. I promise you! It's easier than you might think. But where TO volunteer in Loudoun County? One of the first stops (and best stops) is to visit Loudoun Cares, an organization matching volunteers to the places in need of donated time and efforts.
We'll be drawing out some stories in 2017 about specific partner organizations, but for now, here are several places that answer the question: where to volunteer in Loudoun County in 2017.
*Please note that at the time of publishing, the information provide is accurate. Always call ahead and be sure to understand the volunteer guidelines before showing up.
VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES FOR FAMILIES/CHILDREN
[Volunteers as young as 4 are welcome when accompanied by a parent!]
FOUR LEGGEDS & THOSE WHO TAKE FLIGHT
Homeless Animals Rescue Team
Little Horse Miniature Horse Therapy Team
Loudoun Therapeutic Riding
Wildlife Rescue League
TOUCHING THE HUMAN SPIRIT
Blue Ridge Hospice
(Loudoun Abused Womens Shelter)
Capital Caring Hospice
(quilters, lawyers, artist, massage therapists, photographers and more are needed)
Home Delivered Meals
FOR THE EARTH / OUR COMMUNITY
Balls Bluff Battlefield
Loudoun County Department of Parks and Recreation
high school students for community centers
WORKING WITH THE LITTLES
American Association for the Advancement of Science
GIVE (Growth and Inspiration through Volunteering and Education
(high school students needed for K-5 students)
Loudoun Families for Children
What other locations and organizations do you enjoy volunteering your time? If showing up to donate an hour or two of your time feels like too much to add to your plate, consider simply spreading kindness and good will! Smile at your barista and make eye contact with the person bagging your groceries. Say "no, after you!" and let someone jump the line, or hold a door open.
If you have youngsters in your life and need to inject them with a spirit of kindness / volunteerism, consider gifting them with the game Play it Forward. It will bring a smile to your face, guaranteed!