We know that volunteering has benefits for those on the receiving end but what about for those who give up their time to do something good for our communities?

Studies show the act of volunteering, as long as it’s enjoyable, has emotional, mental and physical health benefits.

The Master Gardener Program (2002), a study that investigated the impact of a volunteer gardening program in Texas, revealed participants reported significant improvements in areas relating to quality
of life.

After surveying 182 participants, researchers found significant improvements in their physical activity, social activity, self esteem and nutrition.

Senior Manager Kath Snell from the Volunteer Taskforce in Perth says volunteering has many positive benefits for the volunteer.

“Volunteering can reduce stress levels, increase physical activity, get people out into the fresh air, create connections with others and give people a real purpose,” says Ms Snell.

“It can give purpose to the days of retired adults or those between jobs; offering structure and meaningful activity.”

“Volunteers with or recovering from depression, anxiety or other mental health issues can find themselves with a structure and an opportunity to contribute and to reconnect, in a supportive environment.”

In 2011, Volunteering WA released State of Volunteering in WA, a report that provides a contemporary picture on our volunteering habits and motivations.

The report found 75.6 per cent of volunteers are motivated to continue volunteering by giving something back to the community and 82.5 per cent of 18 – 24 year olds are motivated by having fun.

Volunteer Services Coordinator Helen Jackson at St John of God Murdoch Hospital says committing yourself to volunteering in an organisation or group that interests you and being connected to the community are also strong motivations for remaining mentally and physically healthy.

“Of course volunteers have a tangible effect on those they are helping, but we see volunteers at the hospital who really flourish in belonging to a group in a caring environment in which they can support and
assist in the wellbeing of others,” says Ms Jackson.

“The face of volunteers at the hospital is continually changing with many younger people signing up through differing motivations.

“This is a strong indicator that people of all ages are committed to their communities through volunteering and being involved as an active citizen.”

If you are interested in volunteering, visit Volunteering WA at volunteeringwa.org.au to find a position that is suitable for you.

If you would like to volunteer at St John of God Murdoch Hospital, please phone Volunteer Services Coordinator Helen Jackson on 9366 1592 or email helen.jackson@sjog.org.au

Boyer, R. Waliczek, T.M. & Zajicek, J.M. July- September 2002. The Master Gardener Program: Do the Benefits of the Program Go Beyond Improving the Horticultural Knowledge of the Participants? in
HortTechnology, 12 (3).

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