I’ve been a student at the Braille Institute in San Diego for about two years now, and I recently added the title of “Volunteer” to my badge. Yes… I’m crossing over the bridge to a place where helping others, such as the blind, can create a healthier you.
As a student, I have learned various skills and soaked up lots of instruction on how to live more confidently as a blind person. I also continue to meet new students who feel just like I did when I started. They don’t want to be there, but they know it’s a place they need to be. Yeah… It takes time to get comfortable in a facility you’ve never been in, among a whole bunch of people you’ve never met. Oh… and you’re blind! It’s a bit scary and nerve-racking to say the least.
These days I walk around like I own the place! Just kidding… I still get lost in the maze of breezeways, doorways, and room numbers! Seriously, I should really know my way around there by now. It’s ridiculous! Anyway, I’ve had a growing urge to share some of the knowledge and confidence I have received during my time at the Institute. So, What did I do? I raised my hand and said “I’ll help, I’ll teach, I’ll volunteer!”. Before I knew it, I was given a new “Volunteer tote bag” and a badge. As you might imagine, I look pretty damn stylish and official!
What the students I teach don’t know is that by helping them, I’m helping myself. Yep. Helping the blind gives me that warm and fuzzy feeling, a sense of purpose, and keeps me active in the local blind community. It’s really quite gratifying for me to give another blind person some of their confidence back! Such warm fuzziness.
Well, I may be going out on a limb here…But, I would suspect that the benefits of volunteering are good for one’s mental health. I came across a great article that explains more about volunteering and your health. (Here’s a hint….Volunteering is good for you!)
The Caring Cure: Can Helping Others Help Yourself?
By Sara Konrath, PhD
“Most of us know that if we eat our fruit and veggies, exercise often, and avoid smoking, we have a better chance of living longer and healthier lives. But your doctor may not have told you that regularly giving to others should perhaps be added to that healthy checklist. A new paper led by Dr. Suzanne Richards at the University of Exeter Medical School reviews 40 studies from the past 20 years on the link between volunteering and health. The article, which is freely available in the open access journal BMC Public Health, finds that volunteering is associated with lower depression, increased well-being, and a 22% reduction in the later risk of dying.” Click here to continue reading article published on Psychology Today.