Volunteering:  Benefits to People’s Well-being during the COVID-19 Pandemic

There are a variety of reasons why people volunteer.  People may volunteer for the chance to give something back to the community or make a difference to the people around them.  Others may find an opportunity to develop new skills or build on existing experience and knowledge.  Regardless of why what unites all volunteers is that they find it both challenging and rewarding.

During this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans are uniting to help each other.  While being sure to keep save and follow guidelines for how to slow the spread of the disease, volunteers are

  • Donating money to nonprofits of their choice
  • Donate or volunteer safely with food banks and pantries
  • Deliver meals and groceries to seniors
  • Help schools to collect or distribute food
  • Give blood
  • Donate medical supplies and equipment
  • Stay in touch with neighbors, friends, and family, especially those who may be alone.

The list and reasons continue to grow.  And, we have all heard stories of people and organizations making masks for hospitals and nursing homes.  People are taking the time to drive by someone’s home on their birthday so they are not forgotten but celebrating life.  School volunteers are creating gift baskets for seniors to let them know that they are remembered and celebrate their accomplishments.  Children are writing and drawing pictures to thank the people who are on the front line or essential workers.  And, people who may be unemployed are donating their time at food banks to give back.

Why volunteer now during this COVID-19 pandemic?  Why have so many people stepped up to show support for various causes and interests? 

During the current crisis, volunteering may be a comfort.  The volunteers may have received help during a previous crisis or illness.  This allows the volunteers to give back and joins them in a common purpose.  Also, being connected in a cause will help the find consolation and support collaborating with others toward the same goal.

Volunteering may promote well-being.  Volunteers assert that they get as much back from their efforts as individuals or organizations they are supporting.  According to an article from NCBI, “Volunteering and depression:  the role of psychological and social resources in different age groups”, evidence shows that volunteering may alter self- perceptions.  This allows people to build confidence and self-esteem to learn new skills.  It will provide positive thinking and affirm one’s social identity.

Volunteering allows the person to feel good about himself/herself and relates to the notion of mattering.  According to APA PsycNet in the article, “Mattering: Inferred significance and mental health among adolescents”, the term mattering is used to depict feeling valued and able to add value.  This builds volunteers’ self-esteem, self-acceptance, and less depression.

During this time of uncertainty, your organization may want to provide a clear understanding of how volunteers may contribute services.  This may be a cultural shift in how, when, and where your volunteers may serve.  Communication with your volunteers, regarding the importance and need for their services, is also important.  This way you will continue to build their comfort level that they are needed and important to your organization, promote their well-being, and let them know that they matter to you and your organization.  It may be time to think outside the box to retain and add volunteers to your organization so that everyone benefits from time served and yet remains safe and healthy during this crisis.

 

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