Volunteering is an excellent way to connect with your community. Numerous studies have shown the physical and mental health benefits of volunteering; including improving life satisfaction, self-esteem, and happiness, and lowering depressive symptoms, psychological distress, mortality, and functional inability. These benefits help a person gain health and in turn sustain healthy communities.
A 2017 study examined the health benefits when volunteering for others, such as in the medical field or with children, versus volunteering for self-improvement purposes, such as participating in an internship to gain work experience. The study interviewed adults regarding their mental and physical health, life satisfaction, depression, and social wellbeing by asking them to rate themselves in each category on a 5-point scale. The results confirmed that volunteering had significant health effects in each of the five categories over not volunteering. It further found that volunteering focused on helping others had a stronger effect on social wellbeing (Yeung, J.W.K., Zhang, Z. & Kim, T.Y. Volunteering and health benefits in general adults: cumulative effects and forms. BMC Public Health 18, 8 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-017-4561-8 )
After over a year of isolation due to COVID-19, people and communities need social connection more than ever. A local opportunity to benefit your mental and physical health is to volunteer with CASA. CASA connects volunteer advocates with children currently in the foster care system. The children have been impacted by abuse and neglect and have been removed from their parents’ custody. CASAs spend time with their assigned child, learn about the case, and advocate in the courts for the child’s best interest. This volunteer opportunity focuses on serving others which as shown above has the greatest impact on a person’s social wellbeing. Volunteers also learn about the child welfare system. Self-improvement through learning and spending time with children can increase your physical health. If you have room for improvement in any of the five categories above consider becoming a CASA volunteer. The more volunteers we have, the healthier our community will be!
CASA of Yavapai County is looking for caring adults to advocate for children while they are in the foster care system. CASA volunteers must be at least 21 years old, have 15-20 hours per month to devote to their work as a CASA and be willing to remain on the case until permanency is reached (approximately 18-24 months). To learn more, please call 928-771-3165 or visit www.CASAofYavapaiCounty.org.