It looks as though the world is discovering what we here at GGC have already learned! Take a look at excerpts from Reporter Christian Caron’s Dec. 21 article in the New York Times:
“Loneliness often stems from unwanted solitude. But it is also driven by a discrepancy between how you perceive your relationships versus what you want (or expect) from them. . . . A potential cure? Kindness toward others. Something as simple as volunteering can improve our health, ease feelings of loneliness and broaden our social networks, studies suggest. Opportunities to give back — both in person and virtually — are more commonplace than they were last year, and the need for volunteers hasn’t let up, especially at food pantries.
“Volunteering is one of the best, most certain ways we can find a purpose and meaning in our life,” said Val Walker, the author of “400 Friends and No One to Call: Breaking Through Isolation and Building Community.” . . . In a study of 10,000 volunteers in Britain, about two-thirds agreed that their volunteering had helped them feel less isolated, particularly those ages 18 to 34.”
I know for many the debilitating combination last winter of cold & snow with social distancing and shut-downs of public establishments created deep feelings of isolation and detachment, making some despondent, others depressed, and still others suicidal.
The next two months could feel very isolating. Again. But it doesn’t have to be isolating: many of us discovered over the last two years how community building volunteerism can be. Whether you’re coordinating dinner items with a team, picking up groceries from a hub, or dropping off gift cards for a school family, it means safe, socially appropriate engagement with people who share a common mission and are usually glad for your participation. And with less to go and do, we have more time to give – there are virtually no down-sides!
A big thank you to all those who made holiday gift bags or dropped them off last month. So many blessed from your efforts.
But why stop now? The season is just beginning! Here are some options this month to look beyond yourself and stay sane this month:
Upcounty Hub Drivers
This was our staple last year: Thursdays between 11:30 and 12:30 several more drivers are still needed through January. It takes a car/van, a GPS, and about an hour. Your kids can help too! SIGN UP HERE
Germantown HELP Drivers
On your own time, once a month picking up groceries and delivering to 4 – 5 families in the Germantown area. Pick a day of the month and a time of the day and off you go! Email Director Cindy Majane at email@example.com
Our sister organization, Kind Works, based in Rockville, has a slew of pre-packaged volunteer opportunities for families on their website year-round. Lots of choices: go to www.dokindworks.org
Participate in MLK Week!
Last but not least, we are getting close to the biggest volunteer day of the year, Martin Luther King day, Monday, January 17! The Montgomery County Volunteer Center has a virtual treasure chest of opportunities of lots of different types. You can hardly come away from this site without something to do for your community! Check out opportunities HERE
Create Your Own
Don’t look now, but there are dozens of volunteer opportunities in a half-mile radius of your house. This is where getting to know your neighbors comes in handy: an elderly resident who needs help shoveling their driveway, a part of the woods that desperately needs trash to be picked up, a neighborhood food collection of canned goods, etc. Don’t think there are any needs? Just ask a rep from your HOA.
Volunteering is a win-win proposition: you are helping the community and you are helping yourself. Start this week!