Urban Alliance

The Incredible Win-Win of Volunteering, and How UAServe Can Help

Article and photo by Sarah Thompson, Urban Alliance’s Director of Marketing & Communications 

With the pressing demands of busy day-do-day schedules, the idea of volunteering can be pushed aside and given little priority. After all, how can a person whose plate is already full find time to do one more thing?
But, what if lending a helping hand could help reduce stress and combat depression, provide skill-building opportunities, and create avenues to meet new friends, make connections in the community?
Here's the good news: it can.
While volunteering helps meet critical needs in our community, the benefits expand to include both the people being served and volunteers.
Volunteering can counteract the effects of stress, anger and anxiety through the social, meaningful connections that are established by helping others. Researchers have discovered that being helpful to other delivers immense pleasure. Volunteering promotes self-confidence by providing a sense of accomplishment. And, studies have shown that those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate than those who do not.
While it's true that the more a person volunteers, the more benefits they'll experience, volunteering doesn't have to equate to an overwhelming commitment of time.
In fact, Urban Alliance's volunteer program, UAServe, provides an easy on-ramp for people of all ages and abilities to find a place to serve that matches with their interests and schedule. Since the program launched in 2013, hundreds of UAServe volunteers have contributed nearly 17,000 hours of service through a broad range of opportunities.
"Urban Alliance matches volunteers with a number of host sites in the Urban Alliance network," explained Sarah Thompson, UA's Director of Communications and Volunteer Mobilization. "What makes this unique is that a volunteer can try out multiple volunteer opportunities to see where they fit in best, before making a commitment."
"Our goal is to help volunteers find opportunities to serve that excite them and where they can dig in an build relationships over time," she added.
Research shows that volunteer just a few hours a week—or about 100 hours a year—can result in the most benefits for you and your host site. UAServe is here to help you find an opportunity that is a comfortable fit for you.
There are currently more than 50 opportunities to make a difference through UAServe, with critical needs for administrative assistantsafter-school program tutorsdelivery driver assistantsfood pantry inventory assistants and in-school mentors/tutors.
Interested in learning more? The next two UAServe orientations will be held on November 7 and November 20 at Urban Alliance. Registration is required. If you are unable to attend an upcoming orientation due to a scheduling conflict but are still interested in volunteering, please contact Rosa McGuire, Urban Alliance's Volunteer Manager.
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