HAMPTON ROADS, Va.— Many people are struggling with pandemic isolation and feeling the effects of the "winter blues," but helping your community may be the perfect way to help yourself.
“Something about giving back brings happiness and a way to connect with other people,” said Executive Director at VOLUNTEER Hampton Roads Stephanie Gorham.
The pandemic has exacerbated feelings of isolation for many during a time people are already at risk for seasonal depression, but volunteering can make a difference.
Putting your extra free time to good use could be a gateway to a healthier mental and emotional space.
Research has shown it leads to lower rates of depression and gives people a sense of purpose.
“It helps reduce stress; it helps you connect with people. I mean, if you're going on site somewhere to volunteer, for some people, that's the only interaction they're having,” explained Gorham.
VOLUNTEER Hampton Roads connects community members to thousands of nonprofits in all seven cities. They’re encouraging people to look for opportunities that can improve their community and their own well-being.
Some opportunities include becoming a virtual tutor for students or virtually reading to children.
Right now, VOLUNTEER Hampton Roads say the greatest need is for drivers who can deliver meals.
These opportunities are entirely socially distanced and help serve the high-risk population who need to stay at home to stay safe.
“We need, you know, a new wave of volunteers to come in and relieve those who have been doing it for months” said Gorham.
It’s easy to get started. People can search and sign up for virtual, remote and on-site volunteer opportunities online at Volunteerhr.org.