You’ve heard the expression “Give until it hurts”? In a new twist on this old adage, the field of positive psychology has discovered that giving is good for you. In addition to benefiting those who need a helping hand, volunteering and other forms of altruism may improve your health.
On Monday, January 19, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of National Service, hundreds of thousands of Americans will volunteer to make a difference in their local communities. In the process, they will enjoy a boost to their immune systems and, possibly, their life expectancies, several studies show.
Altruism — service to others — is fundamental to church work. It’s no surprise, then, that churches and agencies throughout the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) honor MLK Day by volunteering in their communities throughout the year.
For example, all 25 employees of the Presbyterian Historical Society (PHS) provide volunteer services to residents of Philadelphia, where the agency is located. As John Wood, Director of Administration for PHS, says, “Serving is in our DNA.”
The Board of Pensions, also in Philadelphia, sees contributing to the community as both a church and civic responsibility. Susan Reimann, the Board’s Vice President of Strategic Operations and Initiatives, said Board staff engage in outreach because “it’s just who we are.” Teams of Board staff volunteer monthly at Broad Street Ministry (BSM), a PC(USA) ministry in Philadelphia that serves meals and provides other social services to the city’s homeless. Board employees also hold blood drives, conduct food drives, collect clothing for BSM guests, gather toys for needy children, and contribute to the United Way, both financially and through volunteer work.
These are but a few examples of the PC(USA)’s engagement with the world, of faith in action.
So make plans now to volunteer on January 19 — and throughout the year — for a mission that’s meaningful to you. Whatever that is, you will be sharing God’s love and improving your health. Because we are all called to health — and to help — please give until it helps!