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Volunteer work benefits everyone - January 8, 2013

As we move into the New Year, we find ourselves attempting to begin our resolutions as promised. These resolutions usually fall along the lines of “eat healthier,” “workout more,” and “spend more time with my family.” These are all meaningful goals, and while they vary in their expression, the underlying motive of every resolution is generally the same — self-satisfaction.

The formula is simple: do better, feel better. In this season of self-improvement, there is one often-overlooked resolution that will make you feel better, and that is volunteering. Volunteering is not only a way to give back to your community, but it is a satisfaction mechanism as well.

Volunteering allows us to get out of the house and do well by our community. Working for something you care about enables you to feel a sense of accomplishment and purpose. This can boost self-confidence and give you a stronger sense of identity. Volunteering also has direct physical benefits. In a recent study, The Corporation for National and Community Service found people who allocate a significant amount of time to volunteering are more likely to have positive health outcomes, such as decreased depression, increased productivity and a longer lifespan.

Not only is volunteering great for mental and physical health, it allows us to stay connected. It is a great way to meet new people, make new contacts and strengthen existing relationships. Working on a project with others, you will discover similar interests and values. It also helps individuals develop social and interpersonal skills that are instrumental in relationship building and networking. Volunteering can strengthen the bonds between neighbors.

Volunteering also gives us a feeling of value. When you volunteer, you know what you do is more than appreciated. In 2011, the National Performance Measure declared that on average, an hour of volunteering is worth $21.79.

Here at the Maryland Coastal Bays Program, we are well aware we could not pursue our mission without the incredible work of our devoted volunteers. We depend on volunteers to help us restore local habitat, collect water quality samples, staff informational tables, run events like our Osprey Sprint Triathlon, clean up marshes and beaches, monitor wildlife populations, build floats for parades and much more. All of these actions are essential in maintaining our coastal bays and keeping our watershed as clean and healthy as possible.

No matter the time of year, the Maryland Coastal Bays Program has ways for you to get your hands dirty while helping keep your watershed clean.

Whatever New Years’ resolutions you have this year, take a moment to consider adding another one to your list. Volunteering is a fun and effective way to accomplish a number of personal goals with one activity. We often forget that by contributing to our community, we can contribute to ourselves as well. So, if you’re considering volunteering as a way of improving your life and community, Maryland Coastal Bays Program is always looking for willing hands.

Kara Grosse is the Volunteer Maryland Coordinator for the Maryland Coastal Bays Program. Email her at kgrosse@mdcoastalbays.org or call 410-213-2297, ext. 111.

 

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