By Jennifer Blanck, MiCAFE Network Coordinator, at Elder Law of Michigan

“The purpose of life is a life of purpose”- Robert Byrne

This is one of my favorite quotes and I think of it daily. It reminds me that I have a purpose here in this world, to do something useful with my life. This is one of the many reasons I choose to volunteer.

Volunteering has many benefits for both the volunteer and the recipient. Here are some examples of the benefits of volunteering according to an article at Helpguide.org.

  • Volunteering connects you to others by increasing your social skills and allowing you to make new friends and contacts.
  • Volunteering is good for you mentally and physically. It can help counter the effects of stress, anger, anxiety, and depression. It can provide you with a sense of purpose, increase self-confidence, and make you happy. Depending on the type of volunteering it can also help you to stay or become physically healthy.
  • In some cases, volunteering can help advance your career by teaching or improving skills and gaining valuable experience.
  • Volunteering can also bring joy and fulfillment to your life, especially for older adults who have retired and want something to do with their newly found free time. Volunteering may also allow older adults to pursue a passion or hobby they didn’t have time for during their working years.

I volunteer as an assistant leader for the senior high youth group at my church. I have been a volunteer for about five years now. It has been an honor and privilege watching the youth group students grow into young adults. I have participated in youth retreats and been on several mission trips that have been extremely rewarding. Volunteering has allowed me to share experiences and bond with the youth as well as my own children on a much deeper level. The last few mission trips have provided the opportunity to work with and provide services to older adults. This has been important for all ages involved.

The older adults get a special spark in their eye when connecting with the kids. They share their stories, remembering their own childhood, they make new friendships and get to pass on some of their knowledge/wisdom to the next generation. The kids discover that “old people” are cool and have a lot to offer as well. Some of the kids are reminded of their own grandparents and really enjoy spending time, and bonding with the older adults.

If you or someone you know may be interested in becoming a volunteer, check out Volunteer Match to find a place near you. An article from Money Crashers also has a list of suggestions such as your local animal shelter, Red Cross, libraries, food pantries, and Habitat for Humanity.

Jennifer Blanck is a MiCAFE Network Coordinator at Elder Law of Michigan and has been with Elder Law of Michigan since September 2014. As a MiCAFE Network Coordinator, Jennifer helps clients apply for benefits through the Department of Health and Human Services and helps find resources for clients with needs that cannot be met by one of our programs.