volunteer-422598_1280Tomorrow, we’ll celebrate the life and legacy of politician and philanthropist Nelson Mandela. While the day, July 18th, marks Mandela’s birthday, it’s also a day set aside by the United Nations to urge people worldwide to spend 67 minutes (that’s one minute representing every year of Mandela’s public service) to do something for someone in need. What’s in it for you?

In an Issue Brief published April 2007 by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the following benefits of volunteering were reported:

  1. Volunteers are often more satisfied. They feel accomplished and have social ties, both which reduce stress, risk of disease and chance of depression.
  2. Volunteers create a positive cycle. Because of the physical and mental health benefits gained from volunteering, individuals are more likely to keep volunteering, which in turn maintains these positive changes.
  3. Volunteers are better shielded against future health issues. It’s no surprise considering the points above, so even if you’re currently ill, get out and volunteer. The brief tells us research has shown that people with prolonged illness see more benefits through volunteering than through medical care.
  4. Volunteers live longer. There’s no doubt that volunteering contributes to a person’s longevity. Review the timeline of many individuals who lived to be 100 or more, and you’ll find a strong sense of community and a rich history in giving to others.

While it’s important to note that 67 minutes won’t realize all of these benefits, you will walk away with a sense of accomplishment. However, if you can devote just a couple of hours per week to continuing your community service efforts, you will see results. Therefore, I urge you to live like Mandela today and every day, and live longer.