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Betsy S. Silverfine
Annual Giving Officer, Hadassah Florida & New England Region

How Volunteering for Hadassah Can Improve Your Life

Author Betsy S. Silverfine taught her children from a young age about volunteering. Here she is with her daughter Ella, at age 7 in 2014. Photo courtesy of the author.

Volunteering means giving your time and abilities to aid others (usually a nonprofit organization) without the need of financial compensation. Put simply, volunteering is a service to your community.

Many nonprofit organizations rely on volunteers to accomplish day-to-day objectives and to reach long-term goals. Hadassah relies on volunteer hours for much of the needed work. The volunteers work side by side the professionals daily. I am an annual giving officer for Hadassah for the Southeast US (Florida) and for New England (Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire), and work with volunteers daily. Like most nonprofits, we would not be able to do the important work we do without the power of volunteer work.

We must work together to make changes in this world.

Volunteerism is effective both internationally and locally. If you want to be effective, volunteer your time, skills, and resources to help your organization of choice. I am certainly appreciative of all the volunteers who work with Hadassah to accomplish its mission.

Your mental health will be enhanced as an extra benefit. A 2020 study conducted in the United Kingdom found those who volunteered reported were more satisfied with their lives and rated their overall health as better. Respondents who volunteered for at least one month also reported having better mental health than those who did not volunteer. You can meet new people and build community. It’s great to make new friends. You will form bonds with people that will help you through life and in areas you would never have expected. You are helping people and creating friendships with others as well.

Volunteering provides a unique opportunity: it connects people with specific shared values. And these values may not be what you think. At Hadassah, in addition to likely having shared concerns for the health of individuals, research of diseases, funding a camp for children, or helping at risk youth, our volunteers are people who also share things like a willingness to step outside their comfort zone, an openness to spending time on a community effort, a proclivity for engaging in team-oriented activities, and a desire to contribute to the well-being of others.

At Hadassah, you can meet people and make new friends that share common interests, values, and outlooks. We build a community in which we are all working together. Volunteering at Hadassah adds a new dimension to your life. Our volunteer programs can give you the opportunity to bring people into your social network you otherwise wouldn’t get to meet and learn from those who come from different walks of life. This experience can certainly expand your understanding of others who are different from you.

At Hadassah, you can learn about cultures and ways of life that are different from your upbringing which will increase your social flexibility and expand your worldview. It will also raise awareness of the issues that other people deal with and will increase important social skills like empathy and teamwork.

It also gives you a sense of accomplishment and increases feelings of happiness. Volunteering will enrich your life and give you a broader purpose and can give you a boost of motivation.

You will feel happy because you have a purposeful role in the community. It wards off many mental issues like stress, anger and depression. Languishing is not a mental health diagnosis, but it is a real and valid emotion that may affect how you feel and function in the world. In positive psychology, which centers on experiences and circumstances that contribute to well-being, flourishing is considered the state in which a person feels positive emotions toward life in general. This allows them to function mentally, emotionally, and socially. In other words, flourishing contributes to mental wellness.

Yes, that’s correct. Your self-esteem will be boosted!

The more opportunities you take to learn new skills and gain knowledge, the more fully you will develop as a person. When you challenge yourself through volunteering and receive appreciation from others, it can make you feel better emotionally and mentally.

Volunteering will offer you skills that can be used throughout your career development. When you have a volunteering experience to add to your resume, you stand out over job candidates who don’t take the time to give back to society. Volunteering highlights your character, passion, and determination!

Through your volunteer experiences, you have a chance to show that you’re interested in things bigger than yourself, and you are willing to take action to make the changes you want in the world—and that will always help you shine through the competition. It also helps you understand the issues that you’re working on a bit better.

Spending meaningful time with others can reduce stress and the health effects it has on our bodies. Reduced stress translates into several physical health benefits. You’ll sleep better, get sick less often, and even prevent heart disease! This makes sense because as we give our attention to others, we take our attention from our own problems and concerns. It can also put our stress into perspective, and we feel more gratitude in our day-to-day lives. Volunteering is associated with increased survival in able-bodied participants of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing.

Author Betsy S. Silverfine at a Palm Beach County food drive in 2021. Photo courtesy of the author.

Every volunteer opportunity has its own set of tasks, and some of those might require you to learn new skill sets and challenge yourself. This means you’ll be keeping your brain busy and limber!

You can meet new people and build community. It’s a wonderful way to make new friends. You will form bonds with people that will help you through life and in areas you would never have expected. You are helping people and creating friendships with others as well.

I have also been a volunteer, so I understand the specifics of what it takes. I have helped out at my synagogue, Temple Beth El, Boca Raton, FL with the Sisterhood; assisted Jewish Family Services with delivering food and packages to those in need, especially at the holidays; volunteered with Cornell University as an alumna recruiting and interviewing prospective students as well as writing a column every two months on what our alumnae are doing; and volunteered and raised funds for Multiple Sclerosis (this particularly hit home here because my dad had MS), and much more. This is what really led to my path as a professional fundraiser. My need and my want to be working and making a difference every day has improved my life dramatically.

At Hadassah, I have volunteered in my chapter, the Bnot – PWC Chapter in Boca Raton FL, to encourage new members to join. It is a win all around. Hadassah gains new members and I gain satisfaction knowing I brought someone into the chapter which can be mutually beneficial. I have volunteered to bring eggs to donors during the pandemic, to write notes to those who are sick or bereaved and to those that are celebrating joyous occasions such as bar mitzvahs, weddings and job promotions! It certainly does feel good to do this!

Volunteering increases your long-term and short-term memory and reduce your risk of developing age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s. So, time to get started! A study was done on evidence for Neurocognitive Plasticity in At Risk Older Adults: The Experience Corps Program.

So, you have made up your mind to volunteer—what now?

One of the many beauties of volunteering is that there are endless ways that you can get involved and make a difference. The thing is, you won’t know which is right for you until you get out and get involved in the community and start!

The key to accruing all the benefits of volunteering is to find something you really like in a community that you love. It is time to consider your options carefully so you can find an opportunity that will be realistic for you as well as fulfilling. You can certainly volunteer with Hadassah in so many ways, whether working with a local chapter (as a liaison, membership, vice president or more) or working with its national base working internationally with its Israel partner and Hadassah Hospital, or raising funds for Camp Judaea in Hendersonville, NC.  At Hadassah, there is a place for you. Hadassah welcomes everyone who wants to get involved!

For more information on Hadassah, visit here.

About the Author
Betsy S. Silverfine is National Hadassah’s Annual Giving Officer for Florida and the New England Region. She has a wide range of experience in fundraising, communications / community outreach and public relations, both in the non-profit and private consulting arenas including Junior Achievement, Adelphia Corp (now Comcast), Aird & Berlis LLP, and Brown Raysman LLP. A native New Yorker, Betsy is an active member of Hadassah. Additionally, she has volunteered with the MS Society, Temple Beth El of Boca Raton, Cornell University, Kindness Matters, and the American Field Service, where she was an exchange student to Brazil. Betsy has been a 3x NYC marathoner. Betsy has been married to Russell and together they have two children, Ella and Brayden.
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