Volunteering and the Helper’s High

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Have you heard of the “helper’s high”? It’s the uplifting feeling experienced after a good deed or an act of kindness.

Nancy Thomes, Director of Volunteer Services at Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC), is very familiar with the positive affects of service. She sees it every day in the faces of the people who volunteer at YRMC.

“Our volunteers give their time and expertise because they believe in the Mission of Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Center,” she says. “That’s good for our patients, our organization and our volunteers.”

An Uplifting Presence
During the pandemic, when YRMC’s volunteers had to take a six-week break from service, Thomes says employees would stop and ask her when the volunteers would return.

“The volunteers’ presence is uplifting,” Thomes says. “They really make a difference to our hospital community.”

That “difference” could be a volunteer playing the piano in the lobby, strolling from patient room to patient room with their border collie as part of the Pet Therapy program, or reassuring a family waiting for a loved one undergoing surgery. There are more than 40 volunteer roles at YRMC and each volunteer brings their unique gifts to those positions. Do you have an idea for a new volunteer role that you could bring to YRMC? Thomes is ready to listen.

During this episode of Healthy Conversations, Thomes highlights the significant impact YRMC’s volunteers have on the organization and how volunteers benefit by giving their time. She also shares stories from YRMC volunteers about their work. Are you ready to join YRMC’s volunteer team? Thomes describes the application process during this Healthy Conversations video.

Volunteers: A True Treasure
Volunteerism has a rich history in the United States. Volunteers’ contributions of time and talent allow organizations to thrive. According to the Independent Sector, an organization that tracks volunteers’ contributions in the U.S., the estimated national value of each volunteer hour is $28.54 (up recently from $27.20). This adds up. Consider that YRMC’s 648 volunteers gave more than 54,000 hours in 2020. That’s the equivalent of approximately $1,151,750.

Beyond the Helper’s High: The Benefits of Volunteering
What do volunteers gain when they give their time? Here are three reasons to volunteer:

  • It’s good for your body and mind.

Research has shown that volunteering lowers stress levels, improves cognitive (brain) health and combats depression. This is especially true for older adults. And even more surprising, volunteering is particularly beneficial to people with chronic diseases. Studies have documented that adults with disabilities or chronic health conditions show improvement after volunteering.

  • You can share your talents with others and learn new skills.

At YRMC, artists occasionally set up easels in the lobby to paint. Thomes recalls a volunteer artist who generously gave an orchid painting she had just completed to a visitor.

“The visitor’s mother was having surgery that day,” remembers Thomes, “and it made him happy to see her canvas with the orchid—his mom’s favorite flower.”

Many volunteers learn new skills during their experiences. Depending on the volunteer position, YRMC volunteers may have the opportunity to develop organizational, computer or retail skills.

  • It’s a great way to build friendships.

More than 35% of volunteers list socializing as one of the reasons they give their time.

“After 2020, many people are looking for meaningful ways to serve and reconnect with their communities,” says Thomes. “Volunteering at YRMC is a wonderful way to do that.”

Want to learn more about volunteering at YRMC? Contact Volunteer Services at (928) 771-5678.