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The Many Benefits of Volunteering

Helping others keeps us physically and spiritually healthy

AARP volunteers at a Million Meals event


En español | When we volunteer, we give and we gain. As we touch the lives of others, we improve our own life. Research shows volunteering offers many health benefits.

Don Roth, 92, of St. Louis, called us to say that he helps young people in detention at the Family Court of St. Louis County. He shares his life experiences with troubled youngsters, listening to them and bringing in guests ranging from St. Louis University basketball team players to members of the St. Louis Classical Guitar Society.

Don’s story reminds us of the impact we can have when we reach out across generations, and how this can help keep us physically and spiritually healthy. 

It also highlights that, along with the chance to serve vital community needs such as food banks and clothing drives, there’s a constellation of other volunteer opportunities. For example:

  • In more than 20 cities across the country, adults 50 and older offer reading tutoring to students in grades K-3 through AARP Foundation Experience Corps.
  • At veterans health facilities, volunteers are needed to serve those who have done so much to serve us all. Tasks range from answering phones to driving patients to medical appointments to delivering care packages to providing something more specialized, such as playing a musical instrument. You can learn of these volunteer options at the VA Voluntary Service.
  • How about becoming an armchair scientist? The University of Oklahoma operates a citizen science program for which you can submit a soil sample from your yard that could help produce a biomedical discovery.
  • You can help the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predict the weather by using a free app called mPING, available for smartphones. You select the weather occurring near you, then use the app to submit an anonymous report that helps weather scientists around the world.
  • Amateur historians can become online archivists for the National Archives by tagging images or transcribing documents.
  • The musically inclined can volunteer at concerts or festivals, through the Love Hope Strength Foundation, to sign up people to be bone marrow donors.

As Don Roth shows, whatever your age, compelling volunteer opportunities await. Visit AARP’s Create the Good to share your volunteering experience and to find ways to give back.