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Volunteer for your health
Keep Liberty Beautiful
Sara Swida is director of Keep Liberty Beautiful.
I officially became a senior citizen in March. It is kind of a hard title to wrap my mind around when it feels like just a few days ago that I was in my 20s and on top of the world.
There are a lot of not so great things to get used to with aging: crinkly skin, aches and pains, a spotty memory, etc., etc. But I think maybe it is better to dwell on some of the positive benefits of “maturing.”
For one thing, it may be the first time many seniors have had time at all to focus on their own interests. Far too often, life can get in the way of that – working, raising a family and taking care of a home can all take priority over getting to know yourself and what matters to you.
So if this is the first time in forever that you may have had some time to get to know you, I invite you to think about volunteering as a way to explore who you are and what your interests are and to also have some fun while you do so.
Fun is just one of the many benefits for volunteers of all ages, but I think seniors can particularly reap significant positives from getting involved in a program that matters to you.
Volunteers consistently express the benefits that they experience personally, professionally and physically:
• Nine out of 10 volunteers report an improvement in mood and self-esteem. Volunteers get a dopamine rush from “doing good.”
• Volunteers also tend to experience less depression than non-volunteers.
• Eight out of 10 volunteers feel a greater sense of control over their health and wellbeing.
• Active volunteers over 50 are less likely to develop high blood pressure.
• Regular volunteers also report lower stress levels.
• Seventy-five percent of volunteers after 12 months of volunteering share that they feel healthier physically, as well as mentally.
• Nine out of 10 regular volunteers report an expanded view of the world and others.
I always say that volunteer litter cleanups are the great equalizer. It doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor, highly educated or not, black or white, getting together to clean up your community is a great bonding experience. It seems to help differences fade and connections develop.
But it does not have to be picking up litter, most any volunteer effort will do. Volunteers always say they learn valuable things about themselves by volunteering, like unrecognized traits or surprising talents.
And another really important benefit from volunteering appears to be that volunteers, according to several recent studies, live longer. Now that is a benefit any senior citizen can appreciate it.
But whether you are a teen or a middle-ager or “more mature” like me, volunteering can be a treasure trove of benefits for you. We celebrate volunteers with Keep Liberty Beautiful each May. Volunteers are our lifeblood at KLB.
Each year, around 4,000 volunteers make positive things happen for our community. We love our volunteers because they make a difference. And we will be honoring our volunteers at a drop-in social from 5-7 p.m. May 24 at La Quinta Inn in Hinesville.
All 4,000 will not be there, but hopefully many of the more than 200 groups and partners will have a representative there so we can celebrate the enduring contributions our volunteers make for Liberty County. To join us on May 24, we ask our volunteers to contact us by May 18 to RSVP.
Environmental education programs may not be your thing, but there are plenty of programs out there that need volunteers like you. I encourage you to find your interest in whatever program could benefit from your talents and personality. Remember, it can help you live longer.

For more information, contact Keep Liberty Beautiful at 912-880-4888 or klcbdirector@gmail.com.