Thursday, May 16, 2013

Happiness means serving

Are you at the stage of life where you're looking for places to volunteer your time? So many opportunities exist. It seems that more and more organizations depend on volunteer labor to get the job done. There's something for everyone's interest and passion too, it seems. We know our happiness increases when we serve and help others.

In the April/May 2013 issue of AARP The Magazine, I read an article titled "Coaches in the Classroom" about helping at-risk kids learn to read. If you love kids and/or reading and are looking for some way to give back, this just might be for you. The article said that the AARP Experience Corps trains older volunteers in 19 cities (soon it will be 20) from Oakland, Calif., to Revere, Mass. The idea is to help students from kindergarten to third grade improve reading skills.

A Washington University study of 23 schools "showed that kids tutored one-on-one by corps volunteers made 60 percent more progress on two major reading skills—decoding new words and understanding passages—than their classmates did." Imagine what a wonderful feeling you would have to know you have helped a student master something that will be important to the rest of their life!

The article said that the life skills of the volunteers is an additional bonus to the kids, building "an amazing bond of trust that makes the child willing to try." Volunteers gain benefits, too: A study showed that after a year of tutoring, "a majority reported increased strength and energy, no matter the state of their health at the start."

Talk about win-win!

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