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Giving feels good

Since early times, the idea that “charity is its own reward” has underscored all giving. Today, millions of Americans seek fulfillment, fun or a fruitful retirement find lasting joy in volunteer work.

Donating a lifetime of skills or working for a heartfelt social cause has never been more popular. And in today’s multifaceted society, volunteer opportunities are plentiful: in the community, the corporate world, hospitals, schools, shelters, parks and playgrounds. You may just like to help people or want to make your life more meaningful. Volunteering may provide an outlet for a wish you’ve always had. Or perhaps it will just turn idle hours and restless hands into productive service for the less fortunate. What’s more, studies at Cornell University and the University of Michigan suggest that volunteers live longer, healthier lives.

Most of all, volunteers have discovered that giving back is fun. Still, volunteers are always in short supply. You can join a group or you can offer your services individually, like tax preparation or legal counseling. Your schedule can be tailored to your lifestyle. If training is required, volunteer groups will offer it for free.

Finding opportunities is easy. Begin by checking with the local Office on Aging. Pick up the community newspaper—it publishes items on volunteering. Check the phone book under “Volunteer Centers” and be sure to contact your local United Way. Of course, your place of worship is another great source for volunteer work. The local library most likely allows groups to post volunteer notices … check there, too. And the Internet is home to scores of volunteer agencies. Have your web browser search under “society,” “issues and causes” or “community service.”