This time of year, you always hear about volunteering opportunities. Everyone is out helping their neighbors and trying to spread the holiday cheer. Are you curious if there’s something that you can do to help?
The good news is, there is so much you can do! And it doesn’t have to take up your whole day. You can volunteer with whatever free time you have. Even just an hour will have noticeable benefits for you and the people you’re helping.
Meals on Wheels is a great organization to look into for volunteer opportunities because you can see the direct benefits of your work. All those benefits go directly to seniors in your neighborhood who need a little extra help. This is especially important during the holiday season because many of these seniors are already isolated, and the holidays can become lonely when you have no one to spend them with.
That’s why volunteering with Meals on Wheels matters this holiday season. And it doesn’t just make a difference in the lives of seniors. Volunteering can make a difference in your life as well.
What is Meals on Wheels?
Wheels on Wheels of Contra Costa is a community-based organization that ensures no senior in our community is forgotten. Often, seniors find themselves homebound due to illness or mobility issues and become cut off from friends and family. This makes it difficult to get out of the house to buy food or even prepare food for themselves.
Meals on Wheels is a community of people who believe everyone deserves food security. They deserve to know that there is food available to them, that it is healthy food, and that there are people out there who care about them.
Meals on Wheels is about building a community of people who take care of each other.
Why Volunteering is Actually Good for You
There are several obvious reasons why volunteering is a good thing to do. But did you know there are many documented benefits for the person doing the volunteering?
Improves Mental Health
Going out on a limb and helping someone in need makes you feel better about yourself. When you feel good about what you’re doing, it can have amazing effects on your mental health.
Volunteering has been known to reduce stress and can help manage mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.
Builds Social Connections
When you’re volunteering, you generally work with people. Being part of a group and working toward a common goal creates a sense of connection. People bond over shared experiences and memories.
If you volunteer to go to people, like delivering food to seniors, then you quickly build a connection with the people on your route. Making connections with people different from you is especially important because you get to see the world from new points of view. Expanding your social circle and listening to those different from you creates empathy and expands your horizons.
Gets You Moving
Physical activity is vital to staying healthy long-term. When our lives get busy, finding time to go to the gym or even take a walk is hard. But volunteering generally gets you out of the house and moving. Even moving around inside or walking around a neighborhood is physical activity, and every little bit helps.
Staying active can help reduce the risk of many illnesses and improve general health.
Gives You a Sense of Fulfillment
Doing something selfless, like volunteering, gives you a sense of fulfillment or meaning. When you do something bigger than yourself, you feel like a part of something, and your life has more purpose.
Boosts Self Esteem
Doing something good for another person just because you can really makes you feel good about yourself. Helping others boosts your mood in the short term and makes you feel great about yourself in the long term because you know that you’re a person who cares about others and would go the extra mile to help out!
Helps Advance Your Career
On a very practical note, volunteering can be great for your career. Most volunteering opportunities teach you new skills that you can take back to your job or future jobs. But volunteering experience also looks great on a resume.
Working with an organization also helps you network and build professional connections. The people you work with can recommend other opportunities, introduce you to people in your industry, and act as references when you’re applying for a job.
See the Direct Impact of Your Good Deeds
The great thing about volunteering with Meals on Wheels is that you meet the people you’re helping and can see how big of an impact you have on their lives.
Reducing Hunger and Saving Money
The food that gets delivered to seniors serves many purposes. On the most basic level, it ensures that each senior has a meal to eat and won’t be hungry. But it goes deeper than that.
Often, these seniors struggle to pay bills, buy food and medication, and afford doctor’s visits. Without meals being delivered, these seniors may have to forgo groceries to pay for medication or risk paying bills late to buy food. This is a tragic situation that many people find themselves in. Bringing meals and freeing up money for other necessities is an easy and life-changing way to help.
There is also the worry of food insecurity, where seniors may not be eating enough food or are surviving off of unhealthy and processed food. Either way, they do not get enough nutrients, and their short and long-term health suffers because of it. Daily or even weekly meals can eliminate that problem for many seniors. The meals that are delivered by Meals on Wheels are always healthy and nutritionally balanced to meet the needs of seniors so that they don’t go hungry and have all the vitamins and nutrients they need to stay healthy for longer.
Check-in Drive off Loneliness and Saves Lives
Delivering the meals has another hidden benefit. Whenever a meal gets delivered, the driver performs a quick check-in. They stop and chat with the recipient for a few minutes and ensure everything is okay.
This system ensures that each recipient gets a little social interaction daily. This can be vital for homebound seniors with little other social interaction. Feeling cut off and lonely can take a significant toll on a person’s mental health and, ultimately, on their physical health as well.
These check-ins also help seniors maintain their independence by serving as a safety check as well. Many things can go wrong for a senior living alone. They could fall and be unable to call for help. Or there could be a problem with their house that they cannot solve themselves. Having someone come by and check on them could literally save a life. At the least, a driver can offer references for outside services or refer the senior to someone higher up in the organization who can help them.
How Can You Get Started?
If you’re interested in volunteering with Meals on Wheels of Contra Costa, head over to the website or give us a call to hear about opportunities near you. Any time you can contribute puts meals directly on the tables of seniors in your community.
The holiday season is the perfect time to look into great ways to volunteer. Whether you’re making meals or delivering them, Meals on Wheels is a great organization to join. Your efforts help homebound seniors have fresh meals and maintain their independence.
And besides helping those in need, volunteering is great for you. There are so many benefits associated with volunteering, from boosting your self-esteem to advancing your career.
Get in touch today to see what you can do to contribute this holiday season.