summer volunteers

Get Involved in Your Community This Summer

During the winter months, we are strongly encouraged to get involved in our community and participate in the “season of giving”, however, community involvement is welcomed and needed year round. Although there are a number of summer volunteer abroad programs, there are plenty of opportunities close to home. Whether you have a teenager who needs something to do this summer or you find that you have a little extra time on your hands, the summer season is the perfect time to volunteer and help out others in your community. Want to get started? Here are some ideas:

Garage Sales & Lemonade Stands

 

Summer wouldn’t be the same without a garage sale or a lemonade stand. Not only is it a great way to clean out the house and garage, but your proceeds (or a portion of them) can go to a charity of your choice. Want to boost your sales? Make a some signs that state where the proceeds will go (ie. local animal shelter, food shelf), you may find that many of your shoppers are eager to support you and even offer a monetary donation.

 

Don’t forget to get the kids involved, too. Kids love having lemonade stands, but rather than making it a strictly money making opportunity for them, let them pick a charity of their choice to donate a portion of their proceeds. For example, if your child loves animals, encourage him or her to use money to buy dog and cat food for the local animal shelter.

Get Outdoors

 

Once summer arrives, it’s likely that you’ll want to spend most of your time outdoors. While you’re enjoying the great outdoors, take the opportunity to help out around your community by picking up trash while you’re on a walk, help an elderly or disabled neighbor with yard work, volunteer to pull weeds at a community garden, or beautify your neighborhood with some potted flowers or an inspirational message written in chalk on the sidewalk in front of your house.

Giving Back to the Community

 

During the summertime, there are numerous events happening throughout your community that raise funds or awareness for various organizations. Whether you attend or volunteer at an event, you are giving back to your community. Ways to help out includes, but is not limited to, attending or volunteering at a blood drive, volunteering at sporting events (such as Special Olympics), or join the planning committee for a community event such as a marathon or wellness fair.

 

Ways for Your Teen to Get Involved

 

For many teens, summer is an “idle” time, leaving many parents frustrated. Rather than making your summer vacation a battle between you and your teen, encourage your son or daughter to get involved in the community. Whether he or she chooses to get an internship or joins you when you volunteer, not only will it fill the “boring” hours of the day, but it’s a great way to make connections in the community and it is important information to add to a college application.

support

How To Get Involved and Raise Awareness About Cancer

During an individual’s lifetime, there’s a great chance that he or she will be affected by cancer, either being diagnosed with or knowing someone who has. According to the latest facts and figures from the American Cancer Society, there are an estimated 1,658,370 new cancer cases diagnosed and 589,430 cancer deaths throughout the U.S. in 2015. Although cancer research has made promising strides, there’s still no cure for cancer and raising awareness about all types of cancers remains as important as before.

 

Whether you are a cancer survivor, lost someone close to you to cancer, or just want to help educate others about cancer, there are ways to get involved:

Why Cancer Awareness is Important

 

Although many of us may be surrounded by cancer and are very aware of how it affects others, surprisingly, some individuals aren’t as educated or aware. For instance, while you may know about prevention of certain cancers and early detection or what signs to look for, others may not take action about their health until they’ve received a delayed cancer diagnosis; that’s one of the many reasons why education and awareness is important. Simply put, cancer awareness can help save lives and may increase the rate of survival.

Raise Awareness, Get Involved

 

While educating and raising awareness within your own circle of family and friends can help the ones you love, your involvement can make a greater impact. Here are few ideas to raise awareness and show your support:

 

 

  • Hashtag it Up on World Cancer Day: Love or loathe the infamous hashtag, but it can be used for good. Consider #worldcancerday or #notbeyondus on Facebook and Twitter to show your support and share your story. On World Cancer Day (February 4, 2016) you can show your solidarity by changing your favorite social media profile picture to the official World Cancer Day Cover. March is also Kidney Cancer Awareness Month so be sure to share your stories and utilize those hashtags.

 

 

 

  • Donate or Host an Event: If your life has become completely transformed due to Breast Cancer, you may be inspired and motivated to donate to Breast cancer research. You can donate to a foundation of your choice or you can host an event such as a concert, fashion show, dinner, or even a bake sale with all proceeds going to a cancer research.

 

 

  • “Battle of the Bald”: If you’re a college student, get involved in the “Battle of the Bald”, by shaving your head to show your support and raise awareness for childhood cancers. Have a friendly competition with other colleges across the country and raise money for cancer research. Don’t attend college? You can always donate.

 

 

  • Cancer Run Walk: You can get involved with cancer awareness by getting active. By participating in a cancer run/walk (there are probably several to choose from in your area), you are raising funds that will go to cancer research.

 

 

  • Lend a Helping Hand: If you want to help, but don’t have funds for financial support, offer a helping hand to family or friends who are struggling with cancer. Create a benefit, cook meals, babysit children, or offer to drive them to appointments.

 

earth day

Earth Day: Do Your Part, Get Involved

 

Since April 22, 1970, Earth Day has been an annual celebration and a reminder to continue to strive to make improvements on behalf of our environment. Earth Day is the perfect example of a group of people who wanted to make and see a change and in order to do that, they needed to take action. On the first Earth Day, 20 million Americans demonstrated from coast-to-coast, in efforts to raise awareness about the changes that needed to be made to stop further damage from pollution and in order to improve the environment overall.

 

Almost fifty years later, millions of people across the world believe in Earth Day and vow to make changes to better the state of our planet. While Earth Day should (in fact) be everyday, April 22 is a day to remind, motivate, and inspire everyone to be a more mindful and environmentally conscious citizen. Want to get involved this Earth Day? Here are some ideas:

Not Just Earth Day: Change Your Daily Routine

 

If you commit to making a few changes in your daily routine, on Earth Day, you may realize that they are easy to do and you may be inspired to do them year round.

 

  • Bring Your Own Bags: If you’re still using bags from the grocery store, you may be a little behind. While a paper bag may come in handy from time to time, plastic bags should be avoided (some stores have banned them). Some stores charge shoppers if they need a bag for their groceries. If you bring a reusable bag you will be helping the environment and you may even get a discount for bringing your own bag. Bonus: Reusable bags are often much stronger than store bags, so you can load up your bag and not worry about losing your groceries.

 

  • Use Your Own Container: Whether you are buying in bulk (ie. dried beans, rice, or spices) or grabbing a cup of coffee at your local coffeehouse, if you bring your own container you may get a discount. If not, you’re being eco-friendly. It’s a win-win.

 

  • Compost & Recycle: If you aren’t recycling, there’s no good excuse not to. If you’re out in public and don’t see an appropriate receptacle for recycling, stash that bottle in your purse and recycle it at home. If you want to be more mindful about your waste, composting is a perfect way to cut down on your trash. In may seem overwhelming, but there are so many options for composting and it’s easy.

 

 

  • Shorten Your Showers: Who doesn’t love a long and hot shower? However, those luxurious showers are wasting gallons of water. Here’s a challenge: Take a five minute shower. Might take some getting used to, but think of all the extra time you’ll have in your day!
  • Alternate Transportation: If you love your car, be inspired by Earth Day to walk, ride a bike, carpool, or take public transportation.

 

 

Get Involved With Others

 

A great way to celebrate and recognize Earth Day is by getting involved with others. Attend a local celebration. Take advantage of the beautiful spring weather and plant trees, plants, or flowers in a park, at a school, or in someone’s yard.

 

Organize or take part in a trash pick-up. After the snow has melted, streets, grassy areas, and ditches are always filled with debris. Encourage passersby to lend a helping hand or get your family involved, you’re never too old or too young to get involved.

 

Community Involvement – It Can Benefit Your Health!

Community service can give you the pride and satisfaction of helping others. It can help strengthen your community and your family. Most people understand the importance of giving back to the community and taking an active role in improving conditions in the world we live in. We know that volunteering is a good thing, but did you also know that it can be good for your health?

The Corporation for National & Community Service (CNCS) reports that a growing body of research over the past two decades indicates that volunteering produces health benefits as well as social benefits for the individuals involved. According to CNCS, findings presented in its report entitled The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research indicate that volunteers have higher functionality, less depression, and lower mortality rates later in life than those who have not volunteered.

Mental Health Benefits of Community Involvement

As discussed in the CNCS report, the evidence suggests that community service can have a positive effect on social psychological factors. It can provide meaning and purpose in life. Focusing on something other than oneself can alleviate stress. Volunteer work strengthens social ties and protects people from isolation. Helping others also produces a greater sense of self-worth and trust, according to the report. As stated in a Harvard Medical School publication, volunteering helps people feel more socially connected and wards off loneliness and depression.

Physical Health Benefits of Volunteering

The Harvard Medical School article also states that growing evidence indicates a correlation between volunteering and better physical health. According to the article, a recently published Carnegie Mellon University study found that adults over 50 who regularly volunteer their time to help others are less likely to develop high blood pressure, a major contributing factor to stroke, heart disease, and premature death.

CNCS researchers found that people who engage in volunteer activities are less likely to have health problems later in life. Even after factoring in age, gender, and health, the CNCS study determined that individuals who volunteer have a greater chance of living longer.

Rush University Medical Center reports that, according to recent research, people who had chronic pain experienced less pain and disability after beginning volunteer work with others suffering chronic pain. Researchers also found that people who volunteered after suffering heart attacks experienced less depression and despair, factors that increase the likelihood of death in heart attack patients.

However, as reported by Rush, there are limits to how much health benefit is available to an individual through volunteering. Researchers have identified a threshold of one or two hours a week, beyond which no health benefits have been established.