Volunteering brings many benefits

 Diane Stevens giving love during her volunteer shift at Furry Friends

Diane Stevens giving love during her volunteer shift at Furry Friends

Everyone knows that juggling a busy life is a challenge, but you may find that adding one more activity to the mix could bring benefits beyond what you may imagine.

The activity? Volunteering for a group that has a special attraction for you. The key is passion. If you care about what the group is doing, it isn’t hard to find a morsel of time to dedicate to the cause. Most groups have tasks that can take very little time, or can take many hours. It is up to you to pick a duty that fits your skills, enjoyment and time available.

The right match can help your mental and physical health, as well as increase your circle of friends and bring personal satisfaction from doing something for someone else. Even helping out with the smallest task can make a big difference to the lives of people, animals and organizations in need. If you are new to the area, volunteering is a great way to meet new people who share your interests.

A few of the health benefits:

  • Volunteering provides a sense of purpose. For some who have had a change in life such as loss of a spouse, retirement, or relocation to a new community, volunteering can help you establish a new routine while doing something for someone else. It can give you more ambition for life.
  • Volunteering increases self-confidence. Volunteering can give you a natural sense of accomplishment, pride and identity. The better you feel about yourself, the more positive you are about your life and goals.
  • Volunteering combats depression. Those fighting depression naturally gravitate towards isolation. Volunteering can get you out of the house and around other people or animals. Volunteering for animal welfare groups is a great way to combat the depression demon.

There are often jobs available for those with limited mobility such as writing thank you cards, returning phone calls, stuffing envelopes or putting labels on envelopes. Or if you are a person with computer, writing, marketing or graphic skills, there may be jobs for you that can be done from home. The most valuable skills you can bring to any volunteer effort are compassion, an open mind, a willingness to do whatever is needed, and a positive attitude.

Animal welfare and people

Many volunteer opportunities are available in Clark County. The key is to find a volunteer position that you would enjoy and are capable of doing. My personal passion is animal welfare. Since retiring in 2015, I have dedicated many hours a week to an organization called Furry Friends, which is a local all-volunteer, no-kill cat shelter in Clark County.

Helping make a difference for the cats in our care has been very rewarding. Clark County Animal Control says that there are an estimated 96,000 cats in the Clark County, a huge number. How many of them are living miserable lives? I will do what I can to educate people about cats and try to find loving homes for as many of them as I can. Helping one cat may not change the world, but you can change the world for one cat.

If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to have an animal in your life, then you know the fun, affection and loyalty they can bring. They can also have healing powers to reduce stress, depression, anxiety and more in a person’s life. I would encourage anyone to reach out to one of the many animal welfare agencies in the area for volunteer work. There are groups for cats, dogs, horses and more, all working on limited budgets and with many needs.  As you give your time to others, you will find that you have made the world a better place and the joy you receive cannot be measured. Give volunteering a try today.

Diane Stevens is a volunteer for Furry Friends, which is a cat rescue group in Clark County. To find out about volunteer opportunities with this group visit the web site at www.furryfriendswa.org or email information@furryfriendswa.org.