The Three Hidden Benefits of Volunteering


a woman volunteering to help a disabled woman with a caneYou already know that by volunteering, we improve the lives of others. But did you know that when we roll up our sleeves to serve others we also enhance our own lives?

In fact, the benefits of volunteerism are so wide-ranging that the United Nations designated Dec. 5 as International Volunteer Day to highlight its importance and encourage people to take part. Here’s why:

1. Volunteering builds resilient communities. When people have the ability to organize around their priorities and create connections with one another, those communities are made stronger.

2. Volunteering builds educational and professional opportunities. It’s a risk-free way to try out new interests, expand your knowledge, build new skills, meet and socialize with new people, fire up your brain with new neural connections and perhaps discover a whole new sense of purpose.

3. Volunteering builds happier, healthier lives. Spending time with people you like while collaborating on interests you enjoy can only be a good thing. Studies show that volunteering helps combat depression and loneliness; increases self-confidence, life satisfaction and general well-being; and improves physical health. Not only do all those factors improve one’s quality of life, they actually predict a longer life.

So treat yourself. This December, let’s set our kavanah (intention) to do more volunteering.

Need ideas?

Check out our Jewish Federation Volunteer Opportunities page at for a list of programs and partner agencies that can use your helping hands, as well as our Women’s Philanthropy Mitzvah Menu at, which is regularly updated with volunteer events. The life you improve could be your own.

Bari WeissJewish Philly Podcast Episode 21: Bari Weiss

This month, we’re talking about Snoop Dogg and the Jewish outlook on marijuana, followed by a conversation about the commercialization of Chanukah with Jewish Exponent reporter Matt Silver and, in honor of Veteran’s Day, we’re talking about author J.D. Salinger, who, before he wrote “The Catcher in the Rye,” was a Jewish American GI who helped liberate Dachau.

We also sat down with author and New York Times columnist Bari Weiss to talk about how the tragedy at the Tree of Life synagogue changed her entire outlook on American Jewish life, about her new book “How to Fight Anti-Semitism” and how she manages to handle the hate and vitriol that comes with being an outspoken public figure in the era of Twitter.

The Jewish Philly podcast is available on iTunes, Spotify and Google Play and at


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