You already know that by volunteering, we improve the lives of others. But did you know that when we roll up our sleeves to serve others, we also enhance our own lives? In fact, the benefits of volunteerism are so wide-ranging that the United Nations designated December 5th as International Volunteer Day to highlight its importance and encourage people to take part. Here’s why:

1. Volunteering builds resilient communities. When people have the ability to organize around their priorities and create connections with one another, those communities are made stronger.

2. Volunteering builds educational and professional opportunities. It’s a risk-free way to try out new interests, expand your knowledge, build new skills, meet and socialize with new people, fire up your brain with new neural connections and perhaps discover a whole new sense of purpose.

3. Volunteering builds happier, healthier lives. Spending time with people you like while collaborating on interests you enjoy can only be a good thing. Studies show that volunteering helps combat depression and loneliness; increases self-confidence, life satisfaction and general well-being; and improves physical health. Not only do all those factors improve one’s quality of life, they actually predict a longer life.

So treat yourself! This December 5th, let’s set our kavanah (intention) to do more volunteering. Need ideas? Check out our Jewish Federation Volunteer Opportunities page for a list of programs and partner agencies that can use your helping hands, as well as our Women’s Philanthropy Mitzvah Menu, which is regularly updated with volunteer events. The life you improve could be your own!