I bumped into one of Community Thread’s volunteers the other day as she was returning from supervising a church youth group project. Glenda and the other volunteers had spent the better part of the day at the home of a woman who treasured her garden, but found it was more than she could handle alone given her health situation.  

When I inquired how the experience went, expecting to hear how labor intensive it was, Glenda responded by telling me how rewarding it was. She said the woman had tears of joy in her eyes as she thanked the volunteers, explaining how much it meant to her to be able to spend time in her “sanctuary”.

Glenda has supervised volunteer crews at this woman’s home in past summers, and over the years their relationship has deepened. I was heartened to hear Glenda say that she had offered to help the woman, in any way needed, going forward. This genuine offer is an example of the impact of our work at Community Thread:  connecting volunteers to people with needs, resulting in improved lives – for both parties.

Community Thread started when a group of concerned citizens identified people who no longer were able to drive needed rides to medical appointments. These leaders knew that they lived in a caring community where volunteers could help address this gap. That was 50 years ago, and it was the founding principle of Community Thread: to harness the passion of community volunteers to help others. We are fortunate to live in a place where volunteers have responded to local needs in a variety of ways over the years – from delivering gifts at the holidays to responding to flooding – and Community Thread has kept the spirit and practice of volunteerism alive and thriving.

And how does volunteering keep older adults alive and thriving? Studies have shown that Americans over age 60 who volunteer reported higher levels of well-being and lower rate of disability than those who did not volunteer, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service. The effects of volunteering were found to be greater than other factors known to be correlated with high health status, including income, education level or marriage. Older adults undergoing transitions, such as retirement or loss of a spouse, find that volunteering can provide a sense of purpose, decreasing the risk of isolation and depression. Overall, volunteering is associated with an active lifestyle, leading to better health in later years.

If you are ready to see if volunteering is a good fit for you, contact us. Volunteerism is a powerful force for people of any age and we work with individuals ready to leave a legacy by their good works at one of the 50 plus nonprofit organizations we work with who are seeking volunteers. We are also in need of volunteers for our Chore Services and Transportation program, helping older adults live independently.

After completing an initial assessment of your interests and background, Community Thread staff will provide a personalized referral of 3-5 opportunities that match your needs and interests. So give us a call at 651-439-7434 and ask for the Volunteer Center or search our volunteer database, Community Thread Connect (www.communitythreadconnect.org) to find individual volunteer opportunities.

Your health, and your community, will thank you.

By Sally Anderson