Want to be happier, boost your self-esteem, improve your health and perhaps even live longer?
Volunteer to help others.
Cliched though it may seem, volunteering is one of the most beneficial activities we can do for our physical and emotional well-being, repeated research has found.
"Those who work to further the causes they value tend to be happier and healthier, experience fewer aches and pains, and even live longer," writes Gretchen Rubin, author and founder of The Happiness Project, which began with her own search for fulfillment. "They show fewer signs of physical and mental aging."
Fortunately, there are plenty of nonprofit agencies looking to accommodate your need for fulfillment, and sooner rather than later. Here's a sampling of what's available in the coming weeks:
-- Oviedo nonprofit HOPE Helps, which works to prevent and reduce homelessness, needs volunteers May 24 and 25 at the area's new community festival, Central Florida's BBQ Blowout. Co-hosted by the Oviedo-Winter Springs Regional Chamber of Commerce, the event is a fundraiser for HOPE.
If you're available the evening of May 24th or between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. on May 25, organizers say there are "fun" volunteer shifts available. If you're interested in learning more, email HOPE event coordinator Danica Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you're ready to sign up, click here.-- On the other side of town, the Winter Garden homeless ministry Matthew's Hope is holding training sessions for anyone interested in volunteering. Since the operation has blossomed into a full-service one-stop shop that helps people with everything from hair cuts to health care to sobriety and employment, it needs hundreds of volunteers each week to keep it running.
Matthew's Hope is offering two 90-minute training sessions titled "How to Serve the Homeless -- Without Hurting Them or You!" They take place at the ministry, 1460 Daniels Rd., on May 30 (a Thursday) at 6 p.m. and June 1 (a Saturday) at 10 a.m. To learn more, call 407-905-9500 or contact email@example.com.
-- And if you're looking to have an impact on a child or adult with special needs, the iCan Bike program has an upcoming week-long session to teach children and adults with developmental disabilities how to ride a bicycle. The Down Syndrome Foundation of Florida has partnered with the nonprofit icanshine.org to host a camp in Orlando June 9 through June 14.
Some 40 participants are expected, which means organizers need more than 100 volunteers to help cover all the shifts.
You must be at least 16 or accompanied by an adult and able to attend 90 minutes during business hours at the same time for each of the five days. (There are a few additional positions for those who can't attend each day.) You'll also need to be able and willing to do a little jogging alongside the new riders -- nothing farther than a parking lot -- and offer verbal encouragement.