Volunteering makes us feel good, but did you know it also has some pretty important health benefits? Studies have shown that, for older adults in particular, getting involved in charitable work can have some pretty significant benefits and even improve the quality of a senior’s life. After a lifetime of being actively involved in work, either professionally or at home raising a family, your senior years can feel pretty empty, leaving many men and women without a definable sense of purpose. Volunteering fills that gap by providing important activities that don't just fill time—they help nonprofits grow and serve others. Plus, giving back to the community through a group or organization we feel strongly about helps to take the focus off our own lives and troubles, helping us feel more connected to others and even ward off depression, sadness and cognitive decline.
Of course, giving back doesn't just mean doing an activity; many men and women find a greater sense of purpose through financial contributions, especially when distance or physical limitations make active participation difficult or impossible.
International Charity Day is September 5—what better time to look for a way to give back? The Cincinnati area is rich with volunteer and charitable opportunities, and just a little research will turn up an organization that will welcome your help and support and could become an important part of your senior life.
Here are three ideas to get you started:
- Back2Back Ministries: In operation since 1997, this group focuses on improving the lives of orphans and other vulnerable or at-risk children around the world. Through community outreach, Back2Back Ministries offers programs to help children attain goals that help them break the cycle of poverty and enjoy healthier, happier lives. Programs are designed to meet educational, social, physical, emotional and spiritual needs through on-site visits and provision of basic necessities. Sponsor a child or make a general donation to fund programs for all children served by the charity.
- Cincinnati Art Museum: Founded well over a century ago, the Cincinnati Art Museum offers free general admission so that visitors can experience more than 65,000 works of art, some of which date back more than 6,000 years. The free admission policy ensures everyone has a chance to appreciate some of the world's finest examples of art, and it also underscores the museum's need for charitable donations to fund its operations. Membership options range from $30 to $600, and you can also support the museum by giving gift memberships to those you love.
- Matthew 25 Ministries: From its offices on Kenwood Road in Blue Ash, Matthew 25 Ministries coordinates support for victims of natural disasters as well as the severely economically-disadvantaged across the U.S. and around the world. The ministry accepts monetary donations as well as donations of goods, and they also welcome at the home office.
These are just three of hundreds of volunteer and charitable opportunities in the Cincinnati area. For a more comprehensive list of options, visit the United Way of Greater Cincinnati website, which features up-to-date listings of volunteer opportunities in and around the city so you can custom-tailor your experience specifically for your preferences.
Finally, when selecting a charity to support, it's important to consider what your passions are and the types of issues that are nearest and dearest to your heart and your beliefs. When considering participatory activities, you also want to be sure to match the opportunity to your skills and activity level. Charities depend on the kindness of men and women just like you to help them reach their targets, both financially and in terms of outreach. Make giving back part of your normal senior life routine, and start reaping the rich rewards of being more involved in the community around you.