Social researcher have long known that loneliness can be a health risk and that people who develop a network of people in their lives tend to live longer, healthier lives.
As a volunteer placement agency, RSVP is often in the position to witness how getting involved scores a win for both volunteers and the people they're helping.
A survey of volunteers that was conducted by our national office, the Corporation for National and Community Service, found that after just one year of volunteer service:
- Nearly half of the Senior Corps volunteers reported improved health and well-being, and more than one-third initially reporting they were in good health reported improved health at the end of the one-year period.
- Almost two-thirds of Senior Corps volunteers reported a decrease in feelings of isolation, and 67% of those who first reported they "often" lack companionship reported improved social connections.
- Seventy percent of Senior Corps volunteers who initially reported five or more symptoms of depression reported fewer symptoms at the end of the first year, while 63% of volunteers initially reporting three or four symptoms of depression also reported fewer symptoms.
Locally, a 2016 survey of RSVP drivers showed the personal value the drivers place on their volunteer work, which is well represented by the comment of one respondent who shared, "It not only helps the elderly remain in their homes longer but it gives some purpose to my existence as well. It feels good to be able to help others."
Additionally, people who volunteer in Dane County schools were surveyed about their volunteer experiences in 2017 and shared similar sentiments of belonging: "It makes me feel like part of the solution," said one. "It definitely helped me maintain a sense of purpose and self-worth after retirement," added another.
During the course of the coming months, RSVP will be looking at what role volunteering plays in combating social isolation. We invite you along as we explore this topic. Look for more articles on our Web site. And for goodness sake, if you're not already volunteering, think hard about helping your health out by volunteering now. Call RSVP, at 608-238-7787 to find out how to get started.