RSVP celebrated National Volunteer Week with an Open House and presentation by Tracy A. Schroepfer, PhD, on the health benefits of volunteering. Dr. Schroepfer, who is a UW School of Social Work professor, began her presentation with a quote from Helen Keller: "The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves."
She then traced the societal changes that have led to greater social isolation and loss of belonging for older adults. "We no longer sit on the front porch and greet neighbors," she explained. "Children often live across the country and the world. Personal visits and phone calls have been replaced with quick emails and texts." She shared research on the importance of belonging and connectedness, "We have reports that show that when you don't feel as if you belong, then you have higher levels of psychological and physical illnesses."
In middle-age, the workplace and family provide that connectedness. After retirement and children leaving home, those connections can be lost. Volunteering can help to fill the void and provide a sense of belonging. "Volunteering is a two-way street," said Schroepfer. "It is a way to make friends, and a way to expand your network. And, this is really important - it can provide a sense of purpose."
After the presentation, there was plenty of time to socialize. Guests had a change to talk with program coordinators about the many volunteer opportunities RSVP of Dane County has to offer.
If you missed our Open House or would like more information, please give us a call at (608) 238-7787 or stop by our office at 6501 Watts Road, Suite 250. Office hours are 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM, Monday through Friday. We would love to share with you the many ways you can volunteer and make a difference to your community and yourself.