The Benefits of Volunteering

By Amena Hajjar

It is not surprising studies show volunteering offers vital help to people in need, adds to worthwhile causes and often builds community. But I bet you didn’t know – volunteering can be even greater for you, the volunteer.

Helping others through volunteering can reduce stress, combat depression, keep you mentally stimulated, and provide a sense of connection. Giving of your time, even in the simplest of ways, can help those in need and may improve your own health and happiness.

Since I began working at WMSS, I’ve discovered the joys of working alongside with the most amazing folks ever: WMSS dedicated volunteers. As the Nutrition Programs Coordinator, I work with new volunteers and some who have been giving their time for years before my arrival to WMSS.

Allison, a Home Delivered Meals volunteer, has been delivering meals to older adults once a week for over three years. She has built strong bonds with many WMSS clients. Not as a job, as a volunteer, a community member, a concerned neighbor. Her attention to these folks is deep. As I shared in her route when I first arrived at WMSS, I saw through her eyes the warmth each unique older adult has for Allison’s arrival with nutritious food each week. Allison is a gem, a selfless generous, loving volunteer whom I appreciate and am honored to work alongside.

“Each week Thomas and I share gardening tips. He gave me a squash plant that he started from seed that is from Central America.” – Home Delivery Meal volunteer

Peter has been washing dishes at the congregate lunch for over four years. He rarely eats, arrives as the food is being served and starts the process of cleaning up the kitchen. He and I are always the last to leave after he wipes down the sink, leaving it sparkling clean. I had the challenge of washing the dishes for a few weeks in Peter’s absence. I have so much respect for the volunteering work Peter gives each week, always smiling, making jokes and lending an ear to anyone who’s next to him drying the dishes. Peter is a magician. He makes cleaning up after 60+ diners a snap.

“I come every week, because I laugh, sing and get to know someone new in the community. If I miss a day, I feel it. It’s like free therapy.”  – Senior Lunch volunteer

Lenore, a new volunteer, spends her free time as a Friendly Visitor to a client who lives alone and is home bound. She graciously stepped in and has built a friendship in a short time that is golden. She lights up when she says she’s going to visit him. She has learned about his artwork and life and calls him part of her family. Lenore is also a WMSS Board member and knows firsthand what the value of her service as a Friendly Visitor has brought to our clients. Lenore, we appreciate your warm generous heart!

“Betty told me about her quilting and showed me a few BEAUTIFUL quilts that she had made a while ago. I had no idea of her talents.” – Home Delivery Meal volunteer

So why volunteer? Studies show giving to others makes one happier and healthier. In today’s world who doesn’t need some of that good feeling? If you would like to volunteer for WMSS, I encourage you to contact us.  All of our programs run with the generous support of volunteers, so there is sure to be a right fit for everyone. Our programs include Home Delivered Meals, TripTrans (transportation), Friendly Visiting, Medical Equipment Lending, or you can provide Office Support. We have Events and Lectures and the Senior Community Lunch that are fun ways to engage with larger community members. We have volunteers from West Marin and volunteers who travel here from outside, just to lend a hand. I encourage you to try it, just once, why not, you have nothing to lose!

Please reach out to us (415) 663-8148 x103