WW22 December 7, 2016: Gifts That Cost Nothing…but Time

Wednesday Wisdom Series: Gifts That Cost Nothing…but Time
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Here is your bi-monthly Wednesday Wisdom series from the Family Assistance
Foundation, reminding you that a fully-integrated approach for assisting survivors of
traumatic loss involves a balance of head and heart. Wednesday Wisdom is written
and copyrighted by Carolyn V. Coarsey, Ph.D. and distributed by the Family
Assistance Education & Research Foundation Inc., fafonline.org. Reprint is available
with written permission from the Foundation. 

Gifts That Cost Nothing…but Time

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“Seek always to do some good, somewhere. Every man must seek in his own way to
realize his true worth. You must give some time to your fellowman. For remember,
you don't live in a world all your own. Your brothers are here too.”
                                  -Albert Schweitzer, French German Theologian (1875-1965)

Holiday time for most of us involves giving gifts to those we love and share our
lives with—and for many, providing food or presents to strangers who need help from
others. Many of these offerings involve the gift of time—otherwise known as
volunteerism. A great deal of research has been done over the past several years 
about the benefits of volunteerism for the volunteer—so both the giver and the
receiver gain from volunteer efforts.

The good feelings associated with giving one’s time to serve others are well known
to Care Team members and all who volunteer to help their organization’s
customers, their colleagues, and the families of all affected by a tragedy involving
their company. Team members often describe these assignments as some of the
most meaningful – if also most challenging  hours spent while working for an
employer. Interviews with experienced team members also reveal a sense of pride
felt by employees toward an organization that does the right thing for those
impacted by a crisis, something that often proves cathartic for these individuals.

Much of the research on the health effects of volunteerism directly supports
companies who maintain employee-staffed Care Teams. Encouraging staff to
volunteer is good for both the worker and the organization.

Some of the benefits for the individual include a decrease in depression;
enjoying a sense of purpose and fulfillment; stress reduction; and longer life
expectancy. Additionally, one study released by Johns Hopkins University in
2009, revealed that volunteers also increase their brain functioning. Volunteer
activities get us moving and thinking at the same time.

Opportunities associated with volunteerism at work also result in employees
feeling more connected to the organization; more engagement with coworkers;
greater productivity; increased work skills; greater teamwork; stronger
relationships with colleagues; increased professional networking; and positive
feelings toward an employer when volunteer programs at work are supported.

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Many teams come together to volunteer during “peacetime” as well as during a crisis.
The holidays can provide Care Team leadership with another opportunity to help
organize members to join in a collective effort to support a family, a cause, or some
other group-sponsored effort. Corporate members of the Foundation have shared
examples of team projects like providing Christmas for families where the primary
bread-winner has been killed during the previous year; bringing gifts to a nursing
home, hospital or other facility; joining with a local shelter to serve meals to the
homeless; and many more such acts of kindness and compassion.

This holiday season, the Foundation salutes all volunteers who give of their time
and resources, and the companies that support them.  

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