The benefits of giving back to your community

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Can you imagine yourself working to plant seeds that will turn into nourishing food for those who struggle to make ends meet? Or connecting with local seniors who have a lifetime of experiences to share? Or organizing a “Day of Caring” with your coworkers – all while making a difference?

Now that the region has reopened, there is a multitude of diverse ways in which you can give back to the community. While the threat of the virus may be receding, challenges to meet basic needs – like food and housing – are not. Some of our most vulnerable neighbors who struggled before the pandemic are in even more dire straits. As we rediscover the joys of being together, there are many opportunities to do so in a way that gives back on an individual or corporate volunteerism level. The ways to volunteer in our region are endless, and all start with the determination to better the community and the people in it.

Recently, United Way of San Diego County (UWSD) brought together two local organizations, Dreams for Change and, to help beautify the Dreams for Change Safe Parking Program Lot to give San Diegans living out of their cars a safe and beautiful place to park. The corporate volunteers painted, planted, removed weeds, built a car port and so much more. If a group of 30 volunteers could accomplish so much in only three hours, imagine what a larger group could do! “It was a pleasure to partner with United Way. Having the opportunity to meet with the residents that call this their home and know that our organization helped to make a difference was truly satisfying. United Way has a fantastic team that worked tirelessly to make this a success,” Gerald Pollack, Director of Sales, shared with GB Magazine.

Here are four reasons to motivate you to volunteer:

1. Reduce your stress and improve your mood
Volunteering connects you with others, and social connection is an important part of coping with daily stressors.

2. Improve physical health
Volunteering can provide an opportunity for physical activity – such as the manual work needed to help stock a food bank, or the exertion to plant new trees.

3. Share your skills
Do you have a knack for marketing, budgeting, or other business expertise? Your interest in contributing to a nonprofit with your professional skills could make you a good candidate to serve on a nonprofit board.

4. Help people and invest in the future of your community
When you volunteer locally, you often have the chance to help your fellow neighbors in need. You never know who may need your help.

Volunteer your time and talent now to a local organization by connecting with UWSD for local volunteer opportunities near you that you can do alone, as a family, or with friends, or sign up for corporate volunteering with your company and organize a “Day of Caring” to give back to the community or an organization of your choice.

Learn more and support communities in need at

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Esteban Villanueva