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Are you interested in volunteering? If so, now is the perfect time to start because April is National Volunteer Month. Volunteering offers many benefits to older adults and can be a great way of helping others in your community.

Why volunteer?

People who volunteer later in life experience several benefits linked to healthy aging. Benefits of volunteering can include improved mental health and reduced feelings of depression and anxiety. Volunteering has been shown to impart feelings of relaxation and positivity. In addition, volunteering can lower stress levels. This is because by helping others, volunteers gain a sense of meaning and of being appreciated, which in turn can help reduce stress. Health benefits of volunteering extend beyond mental health to physical health. One study even showed that people who volunteer have lower mortality rates than those who do not volunteer.

Volunteering can help you meet new people and make new friends. Studies have shown that volunteering can decrease feelings of isolation and improve social connections. Volunteering can help you expand your network and bond with others by participating in shared activities and discovering interests in common. Helping others can also make you feel good. Older volunteers also report higher self-esteem and life satisfaction. This stems in part from the fact that volunteering can help you find a sense of purpose, especially if you volunteer in a way that you find meaningful.

How can I find a volunteer opportunity?

Interested in volunteering but unsure about where you should volunteer? Think about what your interests are and find an organization that aligns with those interests. For instance, if you like animals, ask your local humane society or animal shelter if they have volunteer opportunities. If you need help finding an organization to volunteer with, groups like AmeriCorps Seniors can help you connect with volunteer opportunities in your community. AmeriCorps Seniors is a government program that helps persons age 55 and older serve their communities. Contra Costa County also offers opportunities to volunteer in the County.

Other ideas for volunteering:

Contra Costa Health Services offers many ways to serve your community, including by becoming a Senior Peer Counselor

Volunteer at your local library

Volunteer at the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano

Volunteer with Animal Services

Select a perfect volunteer fit for you with Volunteer Match