Volunteering: Good for the soul, and for building community

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Serving is an important part of life. There are many ways one can serve, we can assist someone in need of help whether it be something like moving, babysitting, or we can help them financially. We can prepare a meal for someone or we can do their laundry or grocery shopping. We can sit or play games with a senior or a shut-in. We can visit the VA and hang with the veterans. We can volunteer our time for local civic groups, school organizations, or sports clubs or leagues. We can volunteer to clean-up our neighborhood, paint houses, or be part of a block party.

One way that many people serve is to volunteer, whether at their child’s school or for their child’s sports team or though a nonprofit in their area. There are several benefits to volunteering, including that volunteering connects you to others, volunteering is good for your mind and body, volunteering can advance your career, and volunteering brings fun and fulfillment to your life.

Princeton doctor of internal medicine Barbara R. Edwards wrote in a recent article that was published in PsychCentral that the health benefits of volunteering include that it lowers stress, that it can help with depression, and that it helps with longevity, (longer life expectancy).

There are volunteer opportunities to feed the hungry in Manchester, including Food for Children.

One of the great things about volunteering that I personally find is that it gives the feeling of fulfillment. In the years that I have volunteered (started at age 11), no matter how busy or demanding that my volunteer time was, it always left me with the great feeling of knowing that my time helped others.

I have found that one of the primary reasons that people do not volunteer is that they are not sure where to start. Some things one may do to start looking for a volunteer opportunity is to first focus on what they feel strongly about then look for local or national organizations that matches their passion. Some other things that people do include talking to family and friends, picking an organization that will utilize their skills and teach them new ones, picking volunteer opportunities that fit their schedule, and picking an opportunity that allows them to volunteer in person and allows work to be done virtually. A resource that many people find helpful is a volunteer match site such as VolunteerMatch, Idealist, or All for Good.

Volunteers are key in helping out following natural disasters via the Red Cross.

In New Hampshire there is Volunteer NH, which is an organization that’s mission is to ‘promote the tradition of service in New Hampshire.’ A section of the Volunteer NH website allows the user to find current volunteer opportunities and has a sort feature so that opportunities are displayed according to selected criteria. If you know what you want to do or where you want to volunteer, calling organizations directly is also a good thing to do. Organizations sometimes do not advertise their opportunities and would love to have people help out.

A great organization that I am involved with is Food for Children, which is an inner-city mission that provides food, encouragement, clothing, and other essential items. They set-up their food distribution area in the JFK parking lot every Saturday morning. Aside from volunteering on Saturday mornings, there is a need for fundraising help. Food for Children can be contacted via their website.

Coming together as a city will go a long way to helping solve persistent problems of homelessness and the hungr.

A national organization with a local presence that I have volunteered for is the American Red Cross. The Red Cross has many opportunities, ranging from first responder training, (CPR, First Aid, AED), to disaster response and blood center staff. They can be reached locally at (603) 225-6697 or at the New Hampshire / Vermont Region website.

Another great organization that I have had the pleasure of volunteering for is the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The mission of MDA is to “fight to free individuals — and the families who love them — from the harm of Muscular Dystrophy, ALS and related muscle-debilitating diseases…” Volunteer opportunities with MDA include events, summer camp, community outreach, and office. The MDA can be contacted at (603) 471-2722 or at their website.

These are just three organizations that I have personal experience with, but there are many organizations that would love volunteers. I encourage everyone to serve and to do so in part by volunteering. This is one way to get involved and will help make our community a greater place for everyone.


Brian Chicoine is a New Hampshire native who has come home after spending several years living in Providence, Rhode Island. Brian and his family are excited to be back in Manchester and are focused on contributing to their community. Brian is the founder of Manchester Forward, a group that is dedicated to celebrating our city, honoring its history, and advocating for its smart growth. Brian merges his life experiences with his passions for innovation and community to develop his articles. Brian and his family live on the West Side. Brian can be reached via email at brian.chicoine@outlook.com.