Since 1985, on Dec. 5 each year, AARP has proudly taken part in the celebration of the United Nations International Volunteer Day.
Our founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, set one tenet in stone at AARP, and that is our motto: “To serve, not to be served.” She believed older Americans had much to contribute — in ability, in experience, and in desire to advance the public good — and likewise, that society had much to gain from its older citizens.
It’s no exaggeration to say that AARP could not do its work without our volunteers. AARP holds Dr. Andrus, and her lessons, close to its heart.
Helping others, being of service, especially to those who have had fewer opportunities or whose circumstances place them in need, is something each of us can do. You don’t have to be rich, or be a celebrity, and you don’t need to be a hero. Each of us has something to contribute. Each of us can ease the way for someone else.
Today, more than 9 million AARP members are participating in our work as volunteers, donors and activists. The glory of volunteering is that the rewards go in two directions. Mounting evidence suggests that volunteering can be a key to better health and happiness, and maybe even an improved economy. Studies show that older adults who volunteer report higher levels of well-being; enhanced happiness, life satisfaction, self-esteem, sense of control over life, physical health and relief from depression.
A new study found a strong link between civic engagement, including volunteering, and a lower unemployment rate. Volunteering is a powerful force! Personal satisfaction, an improved society, preventive medicine and a boost to the economy, all in one!
I am proud of the efforts of AARP volunteers to help meet the ever-growing needs of our society. I join the U.N. in thanking the millions of volunteers around the world who give so much to improve life for others.
To find volunteer opportunities in your community, please visit Create the Good.
Photo credit: Ian Cunningham