Updates from Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and Hospital Foundation
April 18 kicks off National Volunteer week. It’s during this week we celebrate the extraordinary service of volunteers. While many volunteer jobs were halted during COVID-19, countless opportunities were created to help manage what was needed during the onset of the pandemic.
This country has relied on volunteers throughout its history. Colonists banded together during the first years of the New World by helping each other plant crops, build homes, and fight disease. Ben Franklin developed the first volunteer firehouse in 1736 and it has sustained as today more than 70% of all firefighters are volunteers.
During the 19th century Great Awakening, organized charities started forming. As people began to feel greater responsibility for the disadvantaged, organizations such as the YMCA, American Red Cross and United Way were created. Volunteering has long been a practice in health related situations.
During the Civil War, Ladies Aid Societies helped make bandages, towels, bedding, and more. If you have lived here for long, you are likely familiar with our Grass Valley Ladies Relief Society and the amazing assistance they have provided since 1873. During the 20th century, mainstream volunteerism began to flourish and we saw the start of Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions clubs and more.
There is no doubt volunteers make an immeasurable difference in the lives of others, but most of us don’t think about how it benefits our health! Volunteering is shown to decrease the risk of depression, especially in people 65 or older. Engaging with others and building a friendship support system has very favorable impacts. People who provide service to others are shown to be more physically and mentally active. These activities get you moving and thinking.
Volunteering can also play a role in stress reduction. By spending time in service, you are more active and gain a sense of meaning and appreciation. In addition, research found in a study from the Americans’ Changing Lives survey indicates those volunteering at an earlier age are less likely to suffer from ill health as they age.
Numerous studies have looked specifically at the effects of volunteering on those with chronic or serious illness. These studies found when patients volunteer, they receive benefit beyond what can be achieved through medical care. For example, according to a Duke study of individuals with post-coronary artery disease, those who volunteered after their heart attack reported reductions in despair and depression — two factors that have been linked to an increased likelihood of mortality in this type of patient. In addition, these individuals reported a greater sense of purpose in their lives.
As we come out of COVID-19, people are looking for things to do. The SNMH Auxiliary and SNMH Foundation hope you will consider volunteering with us. The Auxiliary is currently accepting applications for work in the hospital. SNMH Foundation also welcomes volunteers that want to help with a wide variety of activities such as mailing, events, and more. To learn more, please go to https://supportsierranevada.org/volunteer or call us at 530-477-9700.
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