Want to live a longer, healthier and meaningful life? Volunteer!

Volunteering is the elixir of life!

While it may not grant the beholder with immortality, a 2012 study in the journal of Health Psychology has shown that people who regularly volunteer live longer lives. The one caveat to this elixir- like effect? Volunteers must volunteer for the inherent joy of volunteering, not just to reap benefits for themselves. And in the spirit of finding one’s joy, many would-be volunteers had the unique opportunity to connect with local organisations at the NSW Volunteering Expo held at the Liverpool Club.

 
Sititi Apoua, a volunteer at Dress for Work – a project run by Metro Assist which gives free, donated business attire to disadvantaged and marginalised men so they can attend job interviews – and one of the exhibitors at the Volunteering Expo, describes volunteering as her chance to help men with practical and immediate support. “Giving a suit to a person can make a world difference, from the way they present themselves to even how they stand – and this can mean the difference between succeeding at the interview or bombing out”. For Siititi, a volunteer veteran of five years, it is clear that she derives great pleasure from her weekly three-day stint at Dress for Work. “I love seeing the clients transform before our eyes – it is really wonderful to witness”. And this, it appears, is the key to obtaining the full benefits of volunteering – finding work that stokes one’s inner fire and truly inspires.

 

Unsurprisingly, the benefit of volunteering doesn’t just stop at increased lifespan. Additional studies highlight the phenomenon known as “helpers high” that derives from volunteering. Namely, participants often report feeling stronger and more energetic after helping others with many others reporting they also feel calmer and less depressed.
For Stiti, what started out as an opportunity to obtain experience with a local organisation has now turned into something far greater. “Working with other volunteers and staff together toward the same goal has been so rewarding – I really feel like the team is really my family”.  For Stiti, volunteering is a way of life and not something she plans to stop doing any time soon.

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