Volunteering has many benefits

REGION – As of 2016, Vermont stood at number eight in rank for top volunteering states in the US. Volunteering has been linked to lowered stress level, feeling healthier and an improved mood according to a national survey commissioned by the UnitedHealth Group.

In an article written for the Huffington Post by Hilary Young in 2013, the baby boomers are the highest age group to volunteer, spending 3.6 million hours volunteering. However, volunteering doesn’t need to require hours of your week, even helping out with small task can make a difference.

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The Springfield Warming Shelter is always looking for volunteers. Photo provided.

One benefit to volunteering is the opportunity it gives to connect you with other people and make new friends. If you are new to an area, volunteering will “expose you to people with common interests, neighborhood resources and fun and fulfilling activities.” states helpguide.org.

Perhaps you have a disability or a health condition and your wondering if you can still volunteer. Yes you can! Actually, research has shown an improvement to those that have a disability or a health condition, whether that is heart disease, diabetes, digestive orders or hearing loss.

Today volunteering can take place via phone or computer if lack of transportation, time constraints or a disability is a challenge. The only necessities for volunteering are passion and positivity; otherwise there are no boundaries!

The Springfield Warming Shelter, located in the North Springfield Baptist Church on 69 Main Street, opened in the winter of 2013. Their purpose is to provide a warm overnight place for adults in need to stay during the winter months of Nov. through April. The shelter has eight beds that are filled on a first come, first serve basis; men and women sleep in separate rooms. Guests are made to feel welcome and are given dinner, blankets and anything else to make their stay comfortable.

The shelter is always looking for volunteers to take a shift during this time. The first shift is from 6:30 p.m. to midnight when the second shift comes to relieve at midnight to 6:30 a.m. Volunteers need to be at least 18 years old. During the week The Current picks up and drops off the homeless at the Shaw plaza but on the Saturday and Sunday the church bus does this task.

If staying up all night is not for you, other volunteer opportunities include donating a cooked meal, cleaning or picking up and dropping off guests with the bus. You can find more about them on Facebook @springfieldwarmingshelter or contact Patti Miller, coordinator of volunteers at 802-281-8947.

Are you interested in history and preserving it for future generations to view? Volunteering as a citizen archivist might be your channel. This volunteer opportunity only requires a computer with Word and an Internet connection. The historical society of Cheshire County, funded by a grant given by The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), is preserving New Hampshire’s history through training volunteer citizen archivists to transcribe documents. The next workshop archivist day will be May 20 at Keene State College.

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Citizens learn how to transcribe documents at a recent Citizen Archivst Workshop. Photo provided

A few brief tips on how to transcribe a historical document: what you see is what you get. As an archivist, you transcribe exactly how it is written. Do not change or alter the text in any way, even if a word is misspelled, type it just like you see it.

Head over to the citizen archivist Facebook page @citizenarchivists and help transcribe some of the Meschech Weare collection that Keene State College is helping to digitize for the N.H. State Archives. On the page they will post that they need someone to adopt a specific letter. After initiating that you are interested in archiving that letter, a link is sent to you to the digitized version. If you are new to transcribing they will also send you the transcription rules.

There is no time deadline on each letter; each archivist works each his/her own pace. Once finished, the transcribed document is sent back and will then be paired with original and made available for anyone to read.

Volunteering can renew creativity, motivation and vision as well as be a fun way to explore interest and passions. For those of us that are shy and are having a hard time meeting new people, volunteering presents the opportunity to develop your social skills and build confidence. Feel happier or bring more zest to your life by volunteering in your community. Other places with volunteer opportunities are historical societies, hospitals, food shelves, or libraries.

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