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Final SCS Non Profit 2022

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Volunteer for Volunteer for your health your health Volunteer Volunteer for your for your community community Volunteer for Volunteer for a cause you a cause you care about care about Connect with us for Good at www.scvolunteercenter.org As we celebrate National Nonprofit Day, we stand with our fellow local non- profits in solidarity to help make Santa Cruz County a stronger, caring, and saf- er place to live. We work together to improve lives and we bring our unique services where they are needed most. At the Volunteer Center, our superpower is con- necting people to causes they care about through volunteerism. Not only does the community become stronger, volun- teering has profoundly transformative effects on the people who volunteer. Research has shown that volunteering offers many health benefits, especially for adults 60 and older. Volunteering can lower the rate of Alzheimer's, help people lose weight, and statistically volun- teers live two years longer than non-volunteers. It lowers blood pressure, decreases stress and anxiety, decreases levels of pain in people with physical disabilities and chronic conditions and it lowers the likelihood of substance use disorder. Volunteering makes people feel happy, proud, connected and hopeful. It decreases isolation and loneliness and increases self-esteem and purpose. Interestingly, volunteering also makes people feel they have more free time. The more one volunteers the greater the benefit, but volunteering any amount of time has immediate rewards in the moment. The magic number for significant, lasting benefits is 200 hours per year of volunteering, or 3.5 hours per week. Convinced that volun- teering is the way to go but not sure where to start? At the Volunteer Center we have an oppor- tunity for everybody and we love connecting with people to find out one's unique strengths and abil- ities to create the perfect match. A population that increasingly needs more volunteers, is the older adult population. Our Empowered Aging Divi- sion mobilizes older adult volunteers and many of them choose to volunteer for other older adults. John, an older adult himself, and one of our longtime Transporta- tion Program volunteer drivers, found that he could be most useful driving isolated seniors to appointments. Steve was matched with Carol who is immunocompromised and needs to go to the doctor's office three times per week for bloodwork. Many volunteers aren't able to commit to that schedule, but it worked for Steve. He enjoys the Improving Health & Happiness through Volunteerism By Volunteer Center conversations with Carol and the sense of purpose he gets helping her get to her critical appointments each week. "Steve is wonderful! A godsend!" Carol says. "I really appreciate all the work the Volunteer Center did to hook me up with him…he's like the perfect match." Another Empowered Aging program helping isolated seniors is our Helping Hands Program, where volunteers perform simple yet critical home repairs for older adults in need. "Yesterday Ron came to my house and installed a banister on my back stairs," Helping Hands client Arlene said about her volunteer. "I really appreciate this and feel much safer. I think the Helping Hands Program is great and very important for safety." We know that the ongoing pandemic has hampered people's ability to meet their daily food needs, make personal connections, and access health and community re- sources. Fortunately, vol- unteers have stepped up to close the gap to these life sustaining resources. This support has been particularly important for local seniors who have struggled with navigat- ing interactions online throughout the past year. Volunteers have played a critical role in bridg- ing the digital divide for seniors through programs like the Volunteer Center Grocery Shopper Program and Stay Connected. Through the Grocery Shopper Program trained volunteers are matched with seniors who can't visit a grocery store be- cause of great risk to their health. Volunteers are recruited to take grocery orders, purchase groceries on behalf of the senior, and deliver the groceries to their doorstep using so- cial distancing practices. Seniors participating in the program have stated, "The grocery program is saving my life and my sanity. I couldn't survive without it." One senior who has maintained an ongoing re- lationship with a volunteer expressed her gratitude for her weekly food delivery volunteer by stating, "I call her my food angel." Through the Stay Connected Program, seniors are matched with a friendly volunteer for regular phone check-ins to help seniors navigate the resources that will be most helpful to them. This could include learning about grocery delivery, falls prevention classes, vaccine information, or how to increase social connections. What we love most about each of these programs is A Special Advertising and Content Section of the Santa Cruz Sentinel August 13, 2022 Continued on page 2

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