I tell people I that fell into the field of emergency management. Three weeks after Hurricane Katrina ravaged Biloxi, MS, I took a break from graduate school to assist in the response efforts. Three weeks later, I was asked to stay as the Volunteer Coordinator; three weeks turned into three months, and then a year. Even today, I’m surprised by how much my time volunteering following Hurricane Katrina has affected my life and my career.
Volunteering Makes Your Life Better!
It’s no secret that volunteering provides just as many benefits to the volunteer as to the organization served. But did you know that volunteering:
- Improves your health — A UnitedHealth Group study reported that volunteering reduced stress in 78% of volunteers, as well as improved the moods in 94%. Volunteers also have lower rates of depression.
- Can land you a job — A LinkedIn survey found that 41% of employers considered volunteer work equally important as paid work when evaluating a candidate, while 20% reported they actually selected a candidate based on volunteer work.
- Makes you live longer — Volunteers have a 20% reduction in mortality compared to non-volunteers according to researchers at the University of Exeter Medical School.
- Increases life satisfaction — According to a UnitedHealth Group study, 96% of people said volunteering enriched their sense of purpose in life.
- Makes you feel like you have more time — Those who give their time (or money), feel like they have more of it, according to a study in the Harvard Business Review.
New Year, New Opportunity
Residents of Arlington are well versed in volunteering — 33% of residents in the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria area volunteered in 2015, ranking them the 4th highest among the 51 largest metropolitan statistical areas in the country. So tell me, how do you volunteer? And while you’re thinking, let me offer you an opportunity.
Arlington Network for Community Readiness (ANChoR) is the new volunteer program of the Office of Emergency Management with a mission to support OEM in educating and assisting Arlington for emergencies. Volunteers are community members over the age of 16 who live or work in Arlington County and want to help their community during an emergency.
ANChoR volunteers may be called upon to staff outreach tables at fairs or lead preparedness workshops. They may be asked to provide critical support during an emergency, such as providing support in the Emergency Operations Center. When events like Winter Storm Jonas roll in, they’ll be tasked with checking on (or shoveling out!) ill patients for life-saving medical appointments.
ANChoR volunteers can learn new skills through trainings, investigate new professional opportunities through networking activities, connect with their community through service projects, help neighbors during an emergency or simply meet new people!
Give Yourself the Gift of Volunteering in 2017!
I drove down to Biloxi, MS after Hurricane Katrina simply to help in any way I could. Over 12 months, I gained skills I never anticipated: roofing, dry walling, mold remediation — even how to use a chain saw properly. I also learned coalition building, fundraising and leadership — skills that allowed me to return home and find a new profession in the world of emergency and volunteer management.
Give yourself the gift of more time, better health, longer life, less stress, higher quality of life, and new opportunities: help your community during an emergency. Sign up for Arlington Network for Community Readiness today, and volunteer in 2017!