Are you feeling down, or stressed out? Do you float from day-to-day without much sense or purpose, just following the daily grind? Would you like to make friends with like-minded people in your community?
America has a tradition of volunteering that goes back hundreds of years. Benjamin Franklin co-founded the first formally organized volunteer fire department in the country in 1736. In his 1835 “Democracy in America,” French political scientist Alexis de Tocqueville noted that where in England or France the government was at the head of any new undertaking, the same would be done in America via an “association” of individuals.
Americans “get things done” because they organize and do it!
Sadly, civic engagement and volunteerism has been on the decline in America since it’s peak in the 1960s, and has been affecting many if not all volunteer-driven organizations. Googling for “decline of volunteerism” returns a staggering 540,000 results as of the date of this post. One of the best investigations of this decline is this article on “Civic Engagement” (Lane Kenworthy, The Good Society, May 2017). In short, there are many theories about “why volunteerism is on the decline in America” with tons of data to back them up, but not one single cause.
With so many possible causes for the decline, let’s pick a reason to reverse it – let’s make HEALTH a reason for people to get involved through Volunteerism and Civic Engagement. A June 2013 article in “Psychology and Aging” reported on a study that suggests volunteering is associated with greater increases in psychological well-being and lower risk of hypertension (high blood-pressure).
Become engaged in your community. Get involved in civic service. Do it because you want to help others and give back to the community and you could find happiness, gratification, mental health and perhaps even better physical health.
Where to begin? Warren Township maintains a list of Civic Organizations – you’ll find the Watchung Hills Elks there, as well as now on VolunteerMatch with many other deserving organizations. VolunteerMatch is a service that “makes it easy for good people and good causes to connect.”
Give one a try – you’ll be glad that you did.
Not yet a member? Are you interested in making new friends, providing direct service to veterans, special children or making a difference in your community? Consider joining the Elks – come down and meet us at Watchung Hills Elks Lodge #885 – click here for our contact information and a map. Send us an email to get the ball rolling at [email protected].